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Obama gives directive to extend overtime pay to workers

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President Obama today issued a directive ordering the Labor Department to extend mandated overtime pay for workers who historically have not been eligible for it under current laws. The directive primarily was aimed at salaried workers who have been required to work beyond the traditional 40 hour week without any overtime compensation, according to America Aljazeera on March 12. Restaurant and retail managers are among the salaried workers who often fall into this category, work extra hours and do not get paid overtime.

Across the United States workers who make less than $455 per week are eligible for overtime pay. However, California and New York have higher limits, $640 and $600 respectively. These higher thresholds are inclusive of retail and restaurant managers who generally do make much less than these larger amounts per week even though they are classified as managers. This is because of the preeminence of "assistant managers" and "shift leaders" who often are just one or two ranks above the minimum wage earners who wait on customers, clean, stock shelves, etc..

It has become customary in retail establishments and restaurants to mandate that these low level management employees work overtime without additional compensation, cleaning, counting money, prepping for the next day, etc.. This is because the retailers and restaurants do not want to have to pay an hourly employee overtime to perform the same tasks.

President Obama's directive is intended to narrow the gap between the poor and the wealthy, as is his directive raising the minimum wage for federal employees from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. Republican members of Congress were not happy with the President's directive, including House Speaker John Boehner, who stated the following:

"There’s all kinds of rumors about what the president may or may not do with regards to overtime pay and reclassifying some jobs for overtime. But if you don’t have a job, you don’t qualify for overtime. So what do you get out of it? You get nothing."

Obviously President Obama believes that millions of Americans will get something from his directive, namely a more manageable living and greater purchasing power. He spoke of income inequity in his latest State of the Union Address and he has demonstrated his commitment to following through on his promises to working Americans.

President Obama's directive comes just a few days after FOX commentator Todd Wilemon advised poor people just "to stop being poor" on The Daily Show.

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