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Governor Wolf to seek OT expansion amid federal inaction

Written by Marc Levy/The Associated Press | Jan 17, 2018 5:14 AM
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Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his office in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Harrisburg) -- Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf wants employers to boost wages for hundreds of thousands of the lowest-paid Pennsylvanians, and administration officials told The Associated Press that they will announce today their pursuit of a new requirement to grant overtime pay to more salaried employees.

Wolf administration officials said they plan to introduce the proposed regulation in the coming weeks and seek its approval from a five-member agency board whose members are appointed by Wolf and top lawmakers from both parties.

The process could take more than a year, and would strengthen the middle class, boost the economy and help make wages fairer, the Wolf administration said.

It is likely to draw fire from business owners, who cheered when federal courts blocked a similar move by former President Barack Obama. Worker-advocacy groups say that some employees often put in far more than 40 hours a week and end up making less than the minimum wage.

California, New York and a handful of other states with higher minimum wages require overtime pay for salaried workers above the federal baseline, management consultants say.

Wolf's administration said the regulation would phase in the increase over three years and cover 460,000 more salaried workers. It would eventually require that salaried workers earning up to almost $48,000 a year, or about $920 a week, get time-and-a-half pay for any time they work over 40 hours in a week.

Pennsylvania's current threshold is set at the federal baseline of $23,660, or $455 per week, which took effect in 2004.

The move comes after Wolf has spent three years fruitlessly asking the Republican-controlled Legislature to increase the state's minimum wage, which is set at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Republican lawmakers haven't budged on Pennsylvania's minimum wage, leaving Pennsylvania in the bottom half of states.

Obama's administration tried in 2016 to more than double the federal overtime threshold by regulation to $47,476, or $913 a week, but it was blocked by a federal court after 21 states sued and it was never enforced.

President Donald Trump's administration has not taken action to increase the federal baseline for overtime pay.

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