Michigan lawmakers OK bill to prohibit OT pay for truckers, others

| 6/28/2006

Truck drivers and several other classifications in the work force are slated to become eligible for overtime pay in Michigan this fall. In response, state lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday, June 27, that would prevent that from happening.

The Republican-led Senate passed the bill 21-16 along party lines. House lawmakers followed suit in a 58-49 vote to send the bill to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

A spokeswoman for Granholm said the Democratic governor was reviewing the bill – HB6213 – but did not see a need for it, The Associated Press reported.

The effort is in reaction to the Legislature’s decision in March to boost Michigan’s minimum wage above the federal standard. The decision means that many employers who had been exempt from paying overtime because the state’s minimum wage did not exceed the federal standard must now begin paying those wages.

The state’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase from $5.15 an hour to $6.95 on Oct. 1.

When the new rate is implemented, 12 classes of workers – including truck drivers – are slated to go from mileage-based compensation to hourly rates and overtime when their workweek exceeds 40 hours.

To keep that from happening, Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, introduced a bill to retain the federal exemptions for many jobs including truckers, nurses, police officers, firefighters and retail salespeople.

“Without this piece of legislation employers will be forced to eliminate the jobs altogether because they cannot afford to pay the added expense,” Huizenga said in a written statement.

But Democrats say the change will cheat those workers out of overtime.

They dealt their Republican counterparts a blow Tuesday by refusing to meet the two-thirds majority needed to let the bill take immediate effect, The AP reported. As a result, workers would still get the overtime for about seven months until the revised rule could take effect in March 2007.

According to The AP, a minority of Michigan’s 200,000 professional truckers are covered under union contracts that already require overtime.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor