Gov. Doyle: Preserves Wisconsin Rules Protecting Overtime Pay

Friday, August 20, 2004

Contacts: Rose Lynch, Department of Workforce Development,

Ethnie Groves, Office of the Governor,

Wisconsin Won’t Go Along With Bush Administration Rules That Would Deny Overtime Pay to About 150,000 Wisconsin Workers

Governor Jim Doyle announced today that Wisconsin workers
receiving overtime pay will remain protected under state labor laws as the
Bush Administration implements controversial changes at the federal level.

The Bush Administration claims its new policy – which takes
effect on August 23, 2004 – would expand overtime benefits, but
estimates show that about 150,000 workers in Wisconsin could lose
eligibility for overtime pay, while only 26,000 might gain coverage.

The new federal rules have been criticized by labor
economists and workers as a move to deny overtime pay to a substantial
number of white collar, middle income workers.

Nationwide, an estimated six million employees could lose
their right to overtime pay under new USDOL classifications of
administrative, executive, and professional employees, according to the
Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based research group.

“Wisconsin’s rules on overtime pay will remain in force,”
Governor Doyle said. “Where the state and federal labor standards are at
odds, the provision giving workers the most protection will take

First proposed by the Bush Administration on March 31, 2003,
the new federal standards represent sweeping changes to the salary
exemptions contained in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

“At a time when low and middle income workers are finding it
increasingly difficult to pay their monthly bills, the last thing
should do is create a situation that could jeopardize their right to
overtime pay,” Governor Doyle said. “These federal rules are a backdoor
of taking away one of the most basic rights workers have, and that’s not
way we do business in Wisconsin.”

Virtually all Wisconsin employees covered under the federal
standards are also covered under Wisconsin’s overtime regulations, except
for employees of the federal government. Because Wisconsin is maintaining
its strong overtime protections, employers will be subject to the
Wisconsin standards.

The Department of Workforce Development enforces Wisconsin’s
overtime regulations. Department of Workforce Development Secretary
Gassman said that DWD has no plans to change state overtime standards, but
will thoroughly review the potential effects of the new federal rules on
Wisconsin employees.

Compared to the federal rules, Wisconsin’s standards cover
more employers. The federal rules apply to businesses that have annual
gross sales exceeding $500,000, engage in interstate trade, or receive
federal funds. Wisconsin’s rules apply to all for-profit firms that sell
good or service.

Individuals seeking information about state overtime
regulations may call DWD at 608-266-6860 or review a comparative summary
the state and federal rules at DWD’s website,

For questions about the federal changes, contact the U.S.
Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, in Madison at 608-441-5221.