According to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the labor federation
will file a lawsuit if the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) attempts to weaken
any of the new overtime eligibility rules established by the administration of
former President Barack Obama.
Trumka argues that taking away the Obama overtime expansion could
have disastrous effects for workers. For now, the
overtime expansion rules are on hold after a federal judge blocked them from
going into effect back in November.
Millions of white-collar workers would have gained eligibility
for overtime starting December 1 under the change before it was blocked. If
allowed, the rule would double the threshold for overtime eligibility, which
means employees making $913 per week would be eligible to receive
time-and-a-half payment when working more than 40 hours a week—even
if they are designated as managers.
So far, new Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has not commented
on whether he will implement the proposed Obama-era regulations. The DOL has
pushed back several deadlines on its decision.
Potential legal action on the way
According to Trumka, the AFL-CIO is preparing to take legal
action against the DOL if the agency attempts to implement rules that have even
a slightly lower standard than that instituted by the Obama administration. The
organization also plans to defend the standard set by the Obama rules in court.
The Texas branch of the federation has already petitioned to join the
Although Trumka has praised President Donald Trump for several of
his decisions, such as leaving the Trans-Pacific partnership, he has mostly
been a vocal critic of the president’s stances, including his position in the overtime expansion issue.
Trumka was particularly vocal in his distaste for a Trump executive order that
required two existing regulations to be removed for every new regulation
created, saying it would be a “particularly odious thing” for workplace safety. He has also spoken out against the proposed 21
percent budget cut for the DOL, saying it would leave the agency “debilitated.”
willingness to take legal action may due partially to a sense of desperation
that has existed since the election of President Trump. Union membership has
been steadily falling in recent years, with a record low 10.7
percent of the workforce in 2016 belonging to a union. Right-to-work
legislation and other actions taken by the Trump administration have threatened
the existence of unions even further. The AFL-CIO likely feels backed into a
corner and is hoping to keep the ground it still has when it comes to employee
For further legal guidance on union rights and other labor issues
for workers in New York, speak with a dedicated employment
lawyer at Cilenti & Cooper, PLLC.