Adjusting Overtime Salary Threshold Would Ensure 'A Fair Day’s Pay for a Fair Day’s Work'

by Katie Tracy | July 29, 2015

A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” This is the premise on which the Federal Labor Standards (FLSA) Act was enacted 75 years ago. By 1938, the Great Depression had brought about high unemployment and had left workers with little leverage to negotiate over working conditions or hours, setting the stage for employers to squeeze labor by requiring long work hours without additional compensation.

To prevent this unfair practice from continuing, the FLSA’s overtime provisions require employers to pay all hourly and many salaried employees overtime pay (time and a half) when they work more than 40 hours a week. Salaried employees making below a certain salary threshold automatically qualify for overtime pay, and those making more than the threshold qualify unless they are exempt (i.e., they are “employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity”). However, the law does not set the salary threshold to adjust automatically based on inflation, and thus, from time to time, the threshold has been updated to reflect economic growth.

Earlier this month, on July 6, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed to raise the salary threshold from $23,660 to $50,440, which would extend overtime protections to 5 million workers across the U.S. The salary threshold was last revised in 2004, but the 2004 threshold of $455 per week ($23,660 annually) did not account for inflation since the previous threshold set in 1975 at $250 per ...

Montgomery County Should Appeal Stormwater Case

by Evan Isaacson | July 27, 2015
Last Wednesday, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge held that the Montgomery County Water Quality Protection Charge is invalid and that the plaintiff should not have been required to pay any stormwater fee to the county. The case could have significant ramifications across the state for jurisdictions that have, like Montgomery County, established a stormwater fee similar to the one invalidated in the case. First, some background.  In 2012, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 987, which required any jurisdiction ...

The SBA Office of Advocacy . . . Taxpayer Funded Lobbyist for Berkshire Hathaway?

by James Goodwin | July 22, 2015
When it commenced on June 1, OIRA’s review of the EPA’s draft final rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants launched a flurry of lobbying activity among a veritable who’s who of America’s largest fossil fuel polluters.   In just over six weeks, the White House’s antiregulatory shop has presided over no less than 21 Executive Order 12866 meetings, the majority of which involved high-priced corporate lobbyists seeking to dilute, delay, or block the rule outright. The log ...

Kill a Worker? You're Not a Criminal. Steal a Worker's Pay? You Are One.

by Rena Steinzor | July 16, 2015
Labor Secretary Tom Perez came into office pledging to create good jobs and take on the economic injustice that oppresses blue-collar workers, from raising the minimum wage and restoring unpaid overtime to combatting wage theft. Luckily, the head of his Wage and Hour Division, David Weil, the author of a revelatory report on how to make the most of strategic enforcement, has moved out quite aggressively.  It’s a pity that other, even more serious crimes, don’t seem to get the ...

CPR Scholars Submit Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Case FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association

by Erin Kesler | July 16, 2015
Today, CPR Member Scholars, with a larger group of law professors, submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) v. Electric Power Supply Association. The professors submitted the brief because, "they believe that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made serious errors when it held that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) lacked authority to regulate operators’ rules for demand response (DR) in the wholesale electricity markets. That holding is contrary ...

The Real Nine Most Terrifying Words in the English Language

by James Goodwin | July 15, 2015
“I’m Republican, and I want to do regulatory reform.”  Whether they’ve uttered that exact nine-word phrase or not, virtually every Republican on Capitol Hill has enthusiastically endorsed the sentiment it expresses at some point—if not on a near-daily basis—during the last few years.  Who could blame them?  The unshakable conviction that our regulatory system is broken and that gutting it is the key to its salvation is apparently one of the few areas where all the GOP’s members can find ...

Join Us for a Discussion of Rena Steinzor's Book, 'Why Not Jail?'

by Matt Shudtz | July 14, 2015
Public Citizen to host discussion of CPR Member Scholar Rena Steinzor’s new book, “Why Not Jail?  Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction.”  On Monday, July 20, 2015 Public Citizen, the Center for Progressive Reform and the Bauman Foundation will lead a discussion focused on CPR’s immediate past president and University of Maryland Law School professor Rena Steinzor’s book, “Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction.”  Watch and listen to a recording of this discussion. Date:               Monday, July 20 ...

Supreme Court's Mercury Decision Did Not Usher in Sunstein's 'Cost-Benefit State'

by Amy Sinden | July 13, 2015
In Michigan v. EPA, handed down two weeks ago, the Supreme Court waded into the decades-long debate over the use of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in agency rulemaking.   The decision struck down EPA’s limits on mercury emissions from power plants for the agency’s failure to consider costs, and so appears, superficially at least, like a win for the pro-CBA camp.  Indeed, Professor Cass Sunstein of Harvard—President Obama’s former “regulatory czar” and one of CBA’s most prominent cheerleaders—has been crowing about the ...

New CPR Issue Alert: Earmarking Away the Public Interest

by Erin Kesler | July 09, 2015
House GOP’s “Negative Earmarks” in Appropriations Bill Would Undercut Key Protections and Cost Thousands of Lives Today, the Center for Progressive Reform released a new Issue Alert, “Earmarking Away the Public Interest: How Congressional Republicans Use Antiregulatory Appropriations Riders to Benefit Powerful Polluting Industries.” The report, by CPR Member Scholars Thomas O. McGarity of the University of Texas School of Law and Richard Murphy of Texas Tech University School of Law and CPR Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin, examines “negative ...

Two Interesting Things About the Chesapeake Bay TMDL Decision

by Dave Owen | July 07, 2015
In a blog post yesterday, Todd Aagaard provided a quick summary of yesterday’s Third Circuit decision rejecting the Farm Bureau Federation’s challenge to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.  This is an interesting and important case, and it will take a while to digest.  But just based on a preliminary read, a few issues seem particularly interesting and important. What does TMDL mean?  The Third Circuit interpreted section 303(d) in a way that seems to afford EPA—and the states—discretion in determining the ...

With Right to Marry, Same-Sex Spouses Now Eligible for Hundreds of Employment Benefits

by Katie Tracy | July 07, 2015
The Supreme Court’s decision on June 26 recognizing same-sex couples’ fundamental right to marry is a significant, albeit long overdue, civil rights victory for the LGBT community and for our nation.  You don’t have to look any further than the long list of benefits available only to married couples to see how denying same-sex couples the right to marry or refusing to recognize their marriage performed in another state is discriminatory.  Fortunately, the Court’s ruling means same-sex spouses will now ...

CPR's Steinzor on the Third Circuit Court's Decision to Uphold the Chesapeake Bay's TMDL Program

by Rena Steinzor | July 06, 2015
The Third Circuit’s decision today is a tremendous victory for the elusive goal of restoring the Chesapeake Bay to the point that it is ecologically healthy.  As the Third Circuit made clear, the Farm Bureau’s relentless and self-serving opposition to EPA’s leadership in this area misreads the law.  Strong federal pollution controls are the last hope for the largest estuary in the world and for the millions of people who trek to its shores to enjoy its amazing beauty.  The ...

The Implications of Michigan v. EPA for Regulation of Hazardous Air Pollutants and Beyond

by Robert Glicksman | July 06, 2015
The following post is based on an article by Professor Glicksman on the George Washington Law Review website.[1] In Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency,[2] Justice Scalia, for a 5-4 majority, held that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s failure to consider cost at the initial stage of deciding whether to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants from electric generating units (EGUs or power plants) under § 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), even though it gave ample consideration to cost at ...

CPR President Rob Verchick on BP's Settlement Today

by Robert Verchick | July 02, 2015
Today’s BP settlement is great news for the Gulf Coast economy, which still suffers mightily from the damage BP and its contractors caused. The President and his Department of Justice deserve credit for hammering out this deal, and keeping their focus on the victims of what the President rightly calls the "worst environmental disaster America has ever faced."  If the settlement is to have the impact on the region that we all hope it will, we’ll need to be sure that ...

West Virginia's Bay TMDL Progress Needs to Accelerate

by Evan Isaacson | July 01, 2015
Editors’ Note:  This is the sixth in a series of posts on measuring progress toward the 2017 interim goal of the Bay TMDL.  The first five posts cover the region as a whole, and then Maryland,  Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia, Future posts will explore the progress of the two remaining jurisdictions. Like New York, the State of West Virginia can seem a bit distant from the Chesapeake Bay and the process of implementing the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load ...

The President's Schizophrenia on the Working Class

by Rena Steinzor | June 30, 2015
President Obama’s approval rating is up to 50 percent for the first time in two years after a stellar period of national reconciliation and the safeguarding of Obamacare, his signature, and truly momentous, achievement.  The president, in fulfillment of his noble promises to help the middle class, is about to put his weight behind a Labor Department rule that would hike minimum earnings needed to earn overtime pay, a proposal that would affected 5 million Americans.  These accomplishments remind people ...

Michigan v. EPA: Costs Matter, But Everything Else Is Up For Grabs

by Lisa Heinzerling | June 30, 2015
In Michigan v. EPA, the Supreme Court reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to regulate power plants under section 112 of the Clean Air Act. Section 112 is the provision regulating toxic air pollutants, such as mercury. The question before the Court was whether EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to allow EPA to decline to consider costs in deciding whether to regulate power plants under section 112. The Court held that it was not reasonable to interpret the Act ...

The Supreme Court Gives Power Plants a Mercury Break

by Thomas McGarity | June 30, 2015
Yesterday, the Supreme Court in Michigan v. EPA threw out EPA’s regulations protecting the American public from mercury and other hazardous emissions of power plants. In another instance of judicial activism by the Roberts court, the majority refused to defer to EPA’s decision to ignore costs in deciding whether to regulate power plant emissions. The decision turned on the meaning of the word “appropriate” in a section of the Clean Air Act that addressed hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from ...

Agency U-Turns

Farber | Jun 18, 2018 | Regulatory Policy

Laying Down the Law on Rule Delays

Heinzerling | Jun 14, 2018 | Regulatory Policy

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