We should be celebrating the achievements of Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, which have gone far beyond those of any Secretary since Frances Perkins. He has successfully implemented long-overdue overtime rules, extended labor protections to domestic workers, established new standards for the retirement-advising industry, fostered an executive order to improve labor standards for the federal government's contractors, and provided guidance to stop misclassification of workers as independent contractors. For an excellent article on his achievements for Labor and for civil rights, see "The Subtle Force of Tom Perez" by Justin Miller in the Summer 2016 issue of The American Prospect.
The Labor Departments of the Carter and Clinton administrations pushed for some of these rules, but did so within 60 days of the end of their terms in office, so the Republican successors could reverse them with a stroke of their pens. Secretary Perez's timely action means that the new rules can only be undone by initiating a lengthy rulemaking process or by Act of Congress. We can be sure that Republicans in Congress will do everything they can to undermine these important rules that accomplish a significant step toward restoring middle-class wages for some workers. The retirement adviser rule requires that advisers put their clients' interests above their own financial interests. The overtime rule requires that workers making up to $47,476 be eligible for time-and-a-half for overtime. To my disgust, a Democrat has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives, HR 5813, that would delay implementation of the rule and prevent ensuring that the threshhold keeps up with salary growth over the years. Please let your Member of Congress know that these rules are important -- albeit insufficent -- steps to lessening inequality.Back