NAPO Wants to Weaken Your Right to Overtime

On 26 April 2004, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) sent an open letter to the Senate regarding the Department of Labor's (DOL) final Part 541 regulations and their continued advocacy of the "Harkin Amendment." In it, they made several misrepresentations regarding the scope of the final rule and its impact on public safety employees. Given the lengths to which the Department went to strengthen—and in some cases expand—overtime for police officers, firefighters and EMTs, their continued efforts to overturn this important rulemaking can only be attributed to blatant partisanship.

Despite NAPO's claims, the Harkin Amendment is not necessary, will negatively impact the public safety exclusion, and will not increase the protections available to these vital public servants.

The final rule provides that the Section 13(a)(1) exemptions and the regulations in Part 541 do not apply to public safety officers, regardless of rank or pay level, who perform public safety work. The preamble makes clear that employees who do perform such work are not exempt executive, administrative or professional employees. DOL also noted that "Police sergeants, for example, are entitled to overtime pay even if they direct the work of other police officers because their primary duty is not management or directly related to management or general business operations; neither do they work in a field of science or learning where a specialized academic degree is a standard prerequisite for employment."

Make no mistake, NAPO's efforts to pass the Harkin Amendment will substantially affect the implementation of the just won overtime protections for public safety employees. The final Part 541 regulations are scheduled to take effect in August of this year. If legislation is adopted that requires DOL to go back to the drawing board, or revamp the Part 541 regulations, how long will it take to see the re-re-revised regulations? Another 13 months? Two years? NAPO may be willing to let their members' paychecks take the hit just so that they can further their own selfish political agenda, but the F.O.P. is not.

As the F.O.P. has said time and time again, the final regulations represent an historic victory for America's public safety employees. These rules and their enforcement in the years to come will mean a great deal for police officers and their families, and the F.O.P. will not let the hopes of so many be destroyed by the momentary political ambitions of so few.