LD 402 would boost middle-class wages by $8.8 million and guarantee overtime pay for all workers who earn less than $55,000
AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill before the Maine Legislature would give middle-class Mainers a much-needed raise and guarantee a living wage for workers with long hours by restoring overtime rights for 28,000 workers.
The bill — LD 402, “An Act to Restore Overtime Protections for Maine Workers” — would boost middle-class wages by $8.8 million, according to a new report published today by the Maine Center for Economic Policy.
“No worker in Maine should be made to work 60 or 70 hours per week without earning a living wage,” said James Myall, a policy analyst at MECEP and the report’s author. “Maine’s middle class is struggling even as corporations reap larger profits and pay lower taxes. LD 402 would guarantee overtime pay for all workers who earn less than $55,000. It would give Maine’s middle class a much-needed raise and boost our economy.”
Nearly all hourly workers are already guaranteed overtime when they work more than 40 hours. But contrary to common understanding, overtime protections apply to salaried workers too.
All workers who earns less than a “salary threshold” set by federal and state overtime regulations must receive time-and-a-half pay for overtime. But the salary threshold has failed to keep up with inflation as business interests have fought off proposed adjustments in an effort to keep wages low. As a result, salaried workers have lost overtime protection over time — including those with relatively low salaries. While 65 percent of salaried Mainers earned less than the salary threshold in the ‘70s, only 20 percent do today.
Under current Maine law, workers with salaries as low as $36,000 annually can be made to work overtime without earning a single additional dime. For those workers, accepting a salaried position can become a trap of long hours with low pay. LD 402 would increase the salary threshold to guarantee overtime for all workers who earn less than $55,000 annually.
The Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee will hold a work session on LD 402 at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 12. For more information and to read the four-page policy brief, click here.