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Guest column: Giving Ohioans a raise

The following is a guest column from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown:

Giving Ohioans a Raise

It’s simple: if you work extra hours, you should earn extra pay. Yet all too often, Ohioans are working longer days without the overtime pay they’ve earned.

This month, the Trump Administration took an important step forward in delivering overtime pay for 130,000 Ohioans who were promised it under a new rule issued by the Obama Administration in 2016.

The rule – and the long overdue pay raises for Ohio workers – have been tied up in courts. And last week, the Trump Administration did the right thing by filing an appeal to continue fighting for overtime pay.

While this is a step in the right direction, there’s more work to be done. At the same time the Labor Department announced it will move forward with defending the rule, the Trump Administration signaled it may only apply the rule to a smaller number of workers. That’s unacceptable – 130,000 Ohio workers were promised overtime pay under this rule and it’s up to President Trump to keep that promise for all 130,000 Ohioans.

I was with Vice President Joe Biden in Columbus to announce the original rule in May of 2016. It would ensure overtime for all workers earning less than $47,476 a year, giving 130,000 more Ohioans the opportunity to earn time-and-a-half when they’re working more than 40 hours a week.

Some employers, including Kroger and PNC Financial here in Ohio, have already moved forward to implement the rule for their employees. These companies understand that Ohio workers are their most valuable asset and supporting workers is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business. Other companies need to follow their lead.

The loss of overtime pay is part of a larger trend Ohioans know all too well – hard work just doesn’t pay off like it used to. Over the last 40 years, GDP has gone up, corporate profits have gone up, executive salaries have gone up – all because of the productivity of American workers. But workers haven’t shared in the economic growth they created. We need to change that.

Securing overtime pay for Ohio workers is one step toward restoring the value of work. We need to change the way we think about the American economy.

It’s not businesses who drive the economy – its workers. We grow the economy from the middle class out.

If work isn’t valued, Americans can’t earn their way to a better life for their families – no matter how hard they work. And without a strong, growing middle class to consume goods and services, our economy simply can’t grow.

That’s why we must take action to update our economic policies, our retirement policies, and our labor laws to make hard work pay off in this country once again.

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