Whitmer Visits Wayne County To Discuss Expanding Overtime Pay Rights

"These are just quality of life issues," Whitmer said.

WWJ News
November 13, 2019 - 9:29 pm

Photo: Jon Hewett / WWJ

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NEW BOSTON, Mich. (WWJ) -- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Overtime Rule Listening Tour -- her fight to expand overtime pay rights for Michigan workers -- made a stop in Wayne County Wednesday afternoon.

Whitmer held a "working lunch" at Tony's Coney Island in New Boston, meeting with several salaried workers to discuss a her proposal to bring more overtime rights to Michigan. 

The governor has proposed increasing the number workers in the state who would be eligible for overtime pay when they work over 40 hours a week. As it currently stands, hourly workers are protected for overtime rights, but salaried workers who make more than $23,660 a year are not.

"I talked to a woman who is a manager in a restaurant, working 70 hours a week, making $35,000 a year," Whitmer told WWJ. "When you look at the hours for what she’s putting in, she’s making almost minimum wage and has three kids to raise on that. She can’t get by. She needs overtime protection -- if she goes beyond the 40-hour work week, she should get paid for it."

Whitmer directed the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity last month to begin the rulemaking process of expanding the protection rights. She says her plan would give around 200,000 workers more overtime rights. 

Whitmer says her plan would boost the economy, as workers who earn more money will spend more money. She says she spoke with a woman who would benefit from overtime pay and asked her what she would do with the extra money.

"She said, ‘I might remodel my house a little bit, I might take my kids on a vacation.’ These are just quality of life issues," Whitmer said. "She is a mom of three kids and will put her money right back in the economy, which is exactly what happens when you’re talking about this population of worker."

That woman was Sarah, a restaurant manager who said she valued the chance to meet with the governor.

"She, I think genuinely cares about this issue and wants to make it beneficial for salaried workers," she told WWJ's Jon Hewett.

Speaking in an October news conference at the Peacock Room in Midtown Detroit, Whitmer said 43% of Michigan households "struggle to just afford the necessities of life."

The new rule is expected to set the threshold for overtime eligibility at $51,000 -- the same as a previously proposed rule by the Obama administration -- though that number has not been finalized. The threshold goes beyond the new rules set by the Trump administration, which are set to begin in January, that would expand the threshold to about $35,500 a year. Workers would earn at least 1.5 times their pay for any time worked over 40 hours in a week. Once Whitmer's request for rulemaking was submitted, officials said the process to finalize an overtime rule could take between 8 to 12 months.