(WASHINGTON) — In his weekly address, President Obama discusses the action he took this week to strengthen overtime pay protections for hard-working Americans.
By executive order, the president called on the Secretary of Labor to update and simplify the country’s overtime rules to ensure fair wages for Americans.
Read the full transcript of the president’s address:
Hi, everybody. In this year of action, I’m doing everything I can, with or without Congress, to expand opportunity for more Americans. This week, I ordered a review of our nation’s overtime rules, to give more Americans the chance to earn the overtime pay they’ve worked for.
Here’s why this matters. Our businesses have created 8.7 million new jobs over the past four years. But in many ways, the trends that have battered the middle class for decades have grown even starker. While those at the top are doing better than ever, average wages have barely budged. Too many Americans are working harder than ever just to keep up.
We’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just a fortunate few. We know from our history that our economy grows best from the middle out, when growth is more widely shared. So we’ve got to restore opportunity for all – the idea that with hard work and responsibility, you can get ahead.
Now, for more than 75 years, the 40-hour workweek and the overtime protections that come with it have helped countless workers climb the ladder of success. But today, an overtime exception originally meant for highly-paid employees now applies to workers who earn as little as $23,660 a year. It doesn’t matter if you do mostly physical labor, or if you work 50, 60, even 70 hours a week. Your employer may not have to pay you a single extra dime.
In some cases, this rule makes it possible for workers earning a salary to actually be paid less than the minimum wage. And it means that business owners who treat their employees fairly can be undercut by competitors who don’t. That’s not right. So we’re going to update those overtime rules to restore that basic principle that if you have to work more, you should be able to earn more. And we’ll do it by consulting workers and businesses, and simplifying the system so it’s easier for everyone.
Americans have spent too long working more and getting less in return. So wherever and whenever I can make sure that our economy rewards hard work and responsibility, that’s what I’m going to do. Because what every American wants is a paycheck that lets them support their families, know a little economic security, and pass down some hope and optimism to their kids. That’s something worth fighting for. And I’ll keep fighting for it as long as I’m President.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio