In May 2016, Obama passed a change to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This change would have increased the maximum exempt salary from $23,660 to $47,892 effective December 1, 2016. What does this mean? Currently, if you are a salaried employee (not hourly), as long as you make $23,660 per year or $455 per week, your employer can work you more than 40 hours a week with no form of compensation. So, if you work 60 hours a week, that is only $7.58 per hour. This has not been changed since 2004. In the 12 years since we have seen the cost of living increase. But we have not seen salaries increase at the same percentage.
The American people are struggling to stay afloat as it is. They are living paycheck to paycheck. President Obama understood the struggles people are facing and wanted to increase this exempt salary to help employees make a fair salary based on today’s cost of living. He wanted to make sure that employers couldn’t take advantage and work their employees longer hours for the same amount and sit back to rake in the benefits.
Last night, Amos L Mazzant, a federal judge in Texas overturned the ruling to change the exempt salary under the FLSA based on 21 states, all but one with Republican governors, fighting this ruling. That’s not even half the country! The other 29 states were going to let the change stand.
Now, to be fair, I understand that one of the reasons the ruling was considered in overturning this change. Not all states have the same cost of living. Not that that stopped them in 2004. You know, when George Bush, a Republican, was the president. But, of course, THAT, of course, is not why Obama’s ruling was overturned. States such as Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Oklahoma have lower costs of living compared to Hawaii, Washington, D.C., New York and Alaska. Although, two of those four I can understand since it’s not as easy to get the product to.
With that said, employers in the lower cost of living states had a choice. They didn’t have to keep their employees as salary. They could have changed them to hourly employees. I know! I know! They won’t be able to take advantage of their employees and work them overtime for the same salary. What WAS I thinking?
In all seriousness, though, instead of completely overturning it, instead of having one exempt salary in every state, as with minimum wage, they could have decided to let the states themselves set a reasonable exempt salary for their employees based on their states cost of living. The American people have a right to a salary that allows them to live. We shouldn’t have to struggle to pay the bills or buy food. The American people shouldn’t have to decide which bill can and cannot be put off. They shouldn’t have to decide they can’t buy milk because they have to get gas for their car. Too many people have to make these decisions.
Employees are entitled to the salary they are worth. They should be paid the salary they earned for the hours they put in. The hours they have to work because their employer deems it necessary to them, instead of hiring someone else because they can get more bang for their buck with a salaried employee who has no protections other than the FLSA. Which, to be honest, the FLSA isn’t really protecting the people anymore.
The FLSA is protecting the businesses. And if you don’t put your “time” in, your employer is more than happy to replace you with someone who will. This leaves a lessened work/life balance. They’re afraid to go on vacation without taking their work with them in fear that their employers will fire them. This mindset? Shows the transition of how employees used to feel back in the day. When employers cared. When employers showed loyalty to their employees.
But, Amos L Mazzant made the decision to overturn this decision. Why? I suppose there could be multiple reasons. He felt that President Obama (who elected him to his seat by the way) and Congress overstepped their positions. (This is the reason listed in Bloomburg.) He felt it wasn’t necessary to compensate employees their fair salary for longer hours on the job. Or was it just another way the Republican party was able to stop President Obama from doing real good for the American people?