business news in context, analysis with attitude

The US Department of Labor is catching some heat from Democrats and organized labor for publishing instructions that show retailers how to avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible under new rules expected to be finalized early this year.

Among the suggestions: cut hourly wages so that overtime pay brings the employee up to the original figure, or raise annual salaries to $22,1000 so that workers become ineligible for overtime.

The opposition is suggesting that offering the advice seems a little hypocritical, since the Bush administration also is touting $895 million in increased wages that it says those low-income workers would be guaranteed from the reforms.

The department says it isn't making recommendations, just listing options. "We're not saying anybody should do any of this," Labor Department spokesman Ed Frank told the Associated Press.
KC's View:
Seems to us that if the rule changes become law, it is perfectly legitimate for the government to tell employers how they can take advantage of them…just as it is labor's right to tell workers how to avoid being taken advantage of.

That said, this is a presidential election year….which means that the November balloting can become something of a referendum on which approach is correct. Let the chips fall where they may.