Coloradans overwhelmingly support on overhaul to the state’s outdated overtime pay rules, according to a new poll released last week.
Seventy-seven percent of Coloradans support increasing the Colorado overtime wage threshold to $62,000 as part of updates to the Minimum Wage Order, according to the poll conducted by Keating Research. Support for the measure included more than 80 percent of Democrats and Unaffiliated voters and more than 60 percent of Republicans.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) is currently considering updates to the Colorado Minimum Wage Order which hasn’t been revised in more than 20 years. The Minimum Wage Order regulates labor policies related to overtime pay, working conditions, and wages.
Currently in Colorado, if you are a salaried employee who makes more than $23,660 a year, your employer does not have to pay you overtime. This threshold will increase to $35,568 (138% of the federal poverty line) on Jan. 1, 2020, when the Department of Labor’s new rule goes into effect. That increase is substantially less than the $47,476 threshold proposed by the Obama administration in 2016, which was subsequently blocked by a federal judge.
Employees who make more than the threshold do not receive overtime pay even if they are working 10 to 12 hours a day or more than 50 hours a week. In 1975, under this law, 62 percent of workers were eligible for overtime pay. Today, less than 8 percent of workers receive overtime pay.
All of these numbers create a challenge for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who has long been a vocal opponent of increasing the threshold for overtime pay. In 2016 the Obama administration’s Department of Labor instituted a rule change increasing the federal overtime threshold from the below-poverty line salary of $23,660, to $47,476. Gardner cosponsored a resolution voicing disapproval on top of his previously introduced legislation to delay implementation of the change. Furthermore issued a press release to announce his efforts to prevent more workers from being eligible for overtime pay.
“Gardner is an original cosponsor of the resolution of disapproval regarding the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime rule. The new regulation will double the threshold for overtime pay and tie future increases to inflation without the opportunity for a public comment period. Gardner has long opposed the DOL’s overtime rule, and in March, he cosponsored the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act to delay the DOL from issuing its final overtime rule.”Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), June 6, 2016
Colorado Governor Jared Polis supported the Obama administration’s DOL increase when he was a congressman. Speaking at a 2016 hearing, he noted that nearly a quarter million Coloradans in his district would see increased wages if the rule went into effect.
“Workers across our country have simply been putting in more and more hours without receiving the compensation they deserve…a manager at a fast-food restaurant in my district might earn a salary of $26,000 a year, but work 50, 60, 70 hours. At that salary, a family of four is well below the poverty line. But under the new overtime rules, they will finally be compensated for their work and receive the pay they deserve. In fact, my district or my state has 248,000 workers that will benefit from the overtime rule.”Governor Jared Polis (speaking as a congressman) on June 9, 2016
Increasing the threshold to $62,000 was supported equally by men (77 percent) and women (78 percent) and by more than 80 percent of young voters and 73 percent of voters over 50.