Video produced and edited by Paula Pecorella and Josh Hirschfeld-Kroen
President Biden could single-handedly give tens of millions of Americans a bigger paycheck and more free time. How? By restoring overtime pay rules. Serial entrepreneur Nick Hanauer explains. Below is a full transcript of the video.
Rebecca Latham: I worked over 90 hours, four weeks in a row. I was so tired. I could barely see straight.
Rebecca: I didn’t get any overtime pay. So if I worked 90 hours, I worked 90 hours, and got no overtime.
Nick Hanauer: President Biden could single-handedly transform the economy by ensuring that tens of millions of American workers have bigger paychecks, more of their time back, or both.
Nick: Here’s how.
Nick: Until the 1970s, the rules were simple: for most salaried Americans, if you worked more than 40 hours in a week, your boss was required to pay you time-and-a-half for every minute you put in over 40.
Nick: More Americans had more time to spend with their families, and in their communities. Not anymore.
Rebecca: My name is Rebecca Lantham. I worked as a restaurant manager for 14, very long years.
Rebecca: I basically lived at work and slept and ate only at home.
Rebecca: I missed so much with the kids. Being at home with Douglas when he was little. The first time he crawled. His first steps. I felt like I never saw my baby.
Rebecca: I didn’t get to be the mom. I didn’t get to be my husband’s wife. I was the GM.
Nick: More than 60 percent of salaried workers used to get overtime. Today that number is as low as 13 percent.
Nick: Right now, the overtime threshold is a $35,368 annual salary. If you make more than that, chances are you probably aren’t getting paid overtime.
Rebecca: They gave everybody a raise to just that $35,000 to avoid paying overtime.
Rebecca: If we worked a ton of hours, we would have been getting less than minimum wage.
Rebecca: There were several times that we had to apply for food stamps with me working all those hours and we couldn’t afford to eat still.
Nick: The good news is that we don’t need Congress to restore overtime protections. President Biden could direct his Department of Labor to raise the standards at any time, improving the lives of millions of hard-working salaried Americans.
Nick: And the higher he raises the overtime threshold, the larger the number of Americans who would benefit. An $83,000 salary threshold would ensure that the same percentage of Americans today enjoy overtime protections as they did when the American middle class was at its strongest.
Rebecca: If I could work 40 hours a week at that time, it would’ve changed my life. I would’ve been able to see my family; I would have also been a better manager.
Nick: If you hear CEOs whining about overtime, it’s total BS. If we don’t want to pay overtime, all we have to do is send our workers home at the end of the work day. If we need more work done, we can pay overtime, or hire enough people to get the job done.
Rebecca: I was doing at least my job and probably three others at the same time.
Rebecca: They would sacrifice us and take those hours away from people who needed those hours.
Nick: And that’s why restoring overtime protections is a job creator, and would be the crown jewel in Biden’s economic agenda.
Nick: By restoring overtime, President Biden will recommit to the 40-hour workweek that made the American middle class so great.
Rebecca: I finally work at a bank now and it’s so amazing.
Rebecca: I actually have time to see the kids, I have weekends. I’ve never had weekends in my life.
Rebecca: I have a life to live now.
Rebecca: They say time is money, but can you really put a price on time?
Videography by Rachael Porter