These workers, the majority of whom are women, earn modest salaries, work long hours and have just been told that they will still be denied fair pay. The updated rule was scheduled to take effect tomorrow, but has now been blocked by Judge Amos Mazzant, who argued that the Labor Department does not have legal authority to set a minimum salary threshold.
But the Labor Department has been exercising that authority since 1938. In fact, it has increased the threshold seven times, most recently in 2004 under President George W. Bush. Congress has amended the overtime law several times and never objected to the minimum salary threshold, and no court had previously ruled that the salary threshold violated congressional intent.
The labor movement joined the Labor Department and many others in denouncing this extreme decision and will continue to fight for overtime protections.
Here’s today’s labor history:
On this date in 1854, “Fighting Mary” Eliza McDowell, also known as the “Angel of the Stockyards,” was born in Chicago. As a social worker she helped organize the first women’s local of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union in 1902.
In 1930, Mother Jones died at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Maryland. Mary Harris Jones—better-known as “Mother Jones”—was the most dynamic woman ever to grace the American labor movement. Employers and politicians around the turn of the century called her “the most dangerous woman in America” and rebellious working men and women loved her fiercely. She was absolutely fearless and tireless advocate for working people, especially coal miners. A founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World—the Wobblies—she feared neither soldiers’ guns nor the ruling class’s jails as she helped organize workers in steel, railroading, textiles and mining, crusaded against child labor, fought to organize women, and was even involved in the Mexican revolution.
Today's labor quote is by Mother Jones
Mother Jones, who said “I’m not a lady, I’m a hell-raiser!”