News & Commentary

September 4, 2015

The future of overtime pay continues to march forward as the comment period for the Department of Labor’s proposed Fair Labor Standards Act update ends tonight.  Earlier this summer the Department of Labor proposed a rule to update the existing overtime regulations for executive, administrative and professional employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The comment period, which ends tonight at midnight, has elicited over 190,000 comments from interested stakeholders and lobbyists.  Lydia DePillis of the Washington Post predicts that the proposed update “could have more of a direct impact on Americans’ earnings as almost any federal law that’s passed since the Affordable Care Act.”  In her article DePillis also notes that it is no surprise that employment policy has, as of late, migrated to the realm of agency rulemaking and regulation.  “As the Obama Administration has resorted to executive action as an end run around gridlocked and hostile Congress, lobbyists have turned their attention to the more complex and obscure world of cabinet agencies.”  But with increased attention, comes increased legal scrutiny.  If and when a final rule is published, it is likely that legal challenges will be sought, as was the case with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Rule landmark air pollution rule, which was thrown out by a court in June.

Reuters reports that technology workers have won a $415 million settlement against Apple, Google and other Silicon Valley titans for allegedly conspiring to keep wages down by agreeing not to solicit their competitor’s employees.  The employees had alleged that agreements to not poach employees from one another limited their earning potential and stunted professional advancement.  U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose, California approved the settlement as “fair, adequate, and reasonable” for the thousands of plaintiffs a part of the class-action lawsuit.  Koh had previously rejected a settlement that would have offered the harmed employees only $324.5 million.  Email exchanges between then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt formed the basis of the employees’ anti-trust suit, which was filed over four years ago in 2011, reports CNET.

The AFL-CIO may endorse a presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire Primary according to Politico.  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka noted that it was “conceivable” although “not likely” that one of the oval-office hopefuls would win crucial support from the nation’s largest federation of unions before the race heats up.  For now, Trumka has meted compliments for each of the democratic hopefuls, Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  Trumka said of Clinton that she was “an experienced, good person” but “has to figure out a way to energize workers.”   As for Sanders, Trumka extoled his support for labor law reform and for a revamped National Labor Relations Act.  Trumka, however, had very little to say of the Republican candidates, with the exception of Mike Huckabee.  Last month, OnLabor covered news that Huckabee was the only Republican presidential candidate to court the support of the AFL-CIO at an endorsement meeting.  Trumka has since noted that he respects Huckabee for his interest in labor but disagrees with him on many issues.

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