Although many restaurateurs and retailers around the nation are angry over the U.S. Department of Labor's new regulations, Vice President Joe Biden addressed the press today in Ohio in hopes of garnering support. He said the ruling, which extends overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans, who are not currently eligible under federal law, will help to strengthen and expand the middle class.
"It's not just about fairness," he said. "It's about stability — social and political stability."
Jeni Britton Bauer, owner of Jeni’s Ice Cream based in Ohio, introduced Biden, who praised the small business owner for not only supporting the ruling but for also implementing it before the Dec. 1 deadline.
"Jenny, thank you, for having the foresight to understand that this isn’t only the right thing to do, but it’s good business,” Biden said.
The ruling is expected to boost wages for workers by $12 billion over the next 10 years, according to the White House. Although that sounds like good news to many, it's not going over well with many business associations, including the NRA and The National Council of Chain Restaurants.
"If this outrageous regulation remains unchanged, chain restaurants will be forced to convert tens of thousands of managers from being salaried professionals to hourly status in order to avoid costly and unpredictable impacts," Rob Green, executive director of The National Council of Chain Restaurants, wrote in a statement. "Restaurant owners across the country are asking why the federal government wants to take a salary away from restaurant managers."
The National Retail Federation, agreed with David French, SVP Government Relation calling the ruling a, "career-killer. "
"With the stroke of a pen, the Labor Department is demoting millions of workers," he wrote in a statement. "In the retail sector alone, hundreds of thousands of career professionals will lose their status as salaried employees and find themselves reclassified as hourly workers, depriving them of the workplace flexibility and other benefits they so highly value. And the one-size-fits-all approach means businesses trying to make ends meet in small towns across America are now expected to pay the same salaries as those in New York City."
Biden said employers will have to make adjustments — that if they want people to work more hours, they must pay them for it. Giving employees a more fair wage, he said, means they’ll have more money to spend, which will help the economy.
"All this goes back into the economy," he said. "It’s a ripple effect.”
Green disagreed, saying:
"Overtime regulations need to reflect cost-of-living differences around the country and allow employees and managers to grow in their careers."
President Obama believes that's exactly what the government is doing, writing Tuesday in an email:
"We’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans' hard work is rewarded. If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones. It's one of most important steps we're taking to help grow middle-class wages and put $12 billion more dollars in the pockets of hardworking Americans over the next 10 years.
"For generations, overtime protections have meant that an honest day's work should get a fair day's pay, and that's helped American workers climb the ladder of success. That's what middle-class economics are all about. But after years of inflation and lobbyists' efforts to weaken overtime protections, that security has eroded for too many families."
Shelly Whiteheadcontributedto this article.