NNA endorses common-sense overtime bill by House Democrats

Jul 14, 2016

Contact: Tonda Rush

The National Newspaper Association today applauded a proposal by four House Democrats to phase in an increase in the threshold salary requirements for overtime-exempt employees.
A bill by Reps. Kurt Schrader, Oregon; Jim Cooper, Tennessee; Henry Cuellar, Texas;  and Collin Peterson, Minnesota, would help small businesses to comply with a new rule by the U.S. Department of Labor that would will increase the salary threshold by about 100 percent in one leap on Dec. 1, 2016. The Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act, HR 5813, would instead impose a 50 percent increase in December and then phase out the remainder over 4 years.
NNA President Chip Hutcheson, publisher of The Times Leader in Princeton, KY, said, “NNA appreciates the work of these four congressmen, who appreciate the bind small businesses in their states were put in by the Labor Department rule. They understand that neither we nor the Labor Department have any idea where the money would come from to impose 100 percent increases on salary levels across an entire work force, particularly in small towns where costs of living are lower than in urban areas. This bill accomplishes much of what the government wanted to do without strangling the small businesses in the process.
“For us, news does not happen on a time clock. Covering the news requires flexibility and creativity that rigid work rules do not allow. Our concern has been that, with our budgets constrained by the slow economy, we would have no choice but to cut back on news coverage and cut jobs, in order to keep everyone within the rules. Rep. Schrader recognizes, as we do, that the increase is needed and he wants to create a schedule that enhances jobs rather than squeezing them out of small businesses. NNA hopes members of Congress see the wisdom of this approach.”
The overtime threshold sets a floor for the annual salaries of executives considered exempt under the Wage and Hour Act.  Today’s threshold is $23,660. It is to be raised to $47,446 on Dec. 1 under a rule imposed upon businesses by the Department of Labor. It will go into effect unless Congress adopts a more moderate rule. Many small businesses, including many non-profits, restaurant owners, homebuilders and NNA, have said the steep increase would cripple their abilities to support their workforces and carry out their missions.