Barack Obama poised to hike wages for millions

The Obama administration is on the verge of possibly doubling the salary levels that would require employers to pay overtime in the most ambitious government intervention on wages in a decade. And it doesn’t need Congress’s permission.

As early as this week, the Labor Department could propose a rule that would raise the current overtime threshold — $23,660 – to as much as $52,000, extending time and a half overtime pay to millions of American workers. The rule has already come under fire from business and Republican opponents who say it will kill jobs and force employers to cut hours for salaried employees.

“The minimum wage they can’t do,” said Bill Samuel, director of legislative affairs for the AFL-CIO. “This is probably the most significant step they can take to raise wages for millions of workers.”

Congressional Republicans are gearing up for a major battle against raising the overtime threshold. The House Education and the Workforce subcommittee will devote much of a scheduled June 10 hearing on federal wage and hour standards to the overtime rule, even if it isn’t yet released. Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, said the rule—sight unseen—“seems engineered to make it as unappealing as possible to be an employer creating jobs in this country.”

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