“When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 77 years ago today, it sent a strong signal that unfair wages and the mistreatment of workers would no longer be tolerated in this country. By establishing the federal minimum wage and overtime protections and banning child labor, the FLSA set basic standards that advanced a shared vision of fair workplaces for all. It was a major victory for workers and families.
But, despite some advances over the years, the vision of the FLSA has been allowed to fade for too long and its standards now badly need updating. We can see this in the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009 despite cost-of-living increases. We can see it in grossly outdated regulations that mean salaried workers must be paid poverty wages to qualify for overtime pay. And worst of all, we can see it in the lives and households of millions of people who are forced to work long hours for little pay and few benefits.
America’s workers and families need a raise, and both Congress and the administration can take real action that would help. Members of Congress should prioritize passage of the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage. And the Labor Department should quickly follow through on an executive action requiring it to revise the classifications and salary thresholds that have denied workers overtime pay for years. These updates would help working families, businesses and our economy tremendously.
This anniversary of the FLSA should be a stark reminder for lawmakers and administration officials that our nation’s promise of fair and reasonable workplace standards was established long ago, and yet for millions of working families across the country it remains far from reality. It is past time to update the country’s minimum wage and overtime pay standards so that they better address the needs of America’s working families today.”