Statement of National President Chuck Canterbury

Press Conference with Wage & Hour Administrator Tammy McCutchen and Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City President Ed Mullins

May 4, 2004

Thank you Administrator McCutchen. The F.O.P. is extremely grateful for the work of Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, Wage & Hour Administrator Tammy McCutchen, and the countless others who were involved in promulgating a final Part 541 rule which does so much for public safety officers in this country.

While we are honored to be with you here today to help set the record straight regarding the impact of the recently announced overtime rules on public safety officers, I am no less outraged at the circumstances which have made our joint appearance necessary.

For 13 months we listened as some organizations and others have repeatedly used these regulations and America's law enforcement officers to further their own partisan political agenda. They have purported to speak for all of our nation's police officers while at the same time vilifying and demonizing Secretary Chao and the Department of Labor. They ignored or chose not to hear her when she came before our National Conference and before the United States Senate, and said quite clearly that the Department would not cut overtime for these vital public servants.

Now that the final regulations are out, I would have thought that these same individuals would have been as pleased as I was that the Part 541 rules secure the right to overtime compensation to an expanded majority of those public safety employees whose continued performance of overtime work is vital to the security of our nation.

Sadly, that has not been the case. Instead of crediting this Administration with giving police officers, firefighters and EMTs their single biggest victory on the issue of overtime in the history of the Fair Labor Standards Act, they have persisted in spreading untrue, unfounded, and misleading information.

Well, it's time that the facts came out.

Whatever else these individuals may wish to claim about this Administration and this Secretary of Labor, the FACT of the matter is that they said they would not cut overtime for public safety officers, and the final rules demonstrate that they have kept their word.

It is also a fact that not only did they protect the right to overtime for those public safety employees who have it now, they have even made it possible for overtime protections to be extended to those who do not.

Despite what its advocates would have you believe, the fact is that 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.

Consider this: 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 these rules, how long will it take to see the re-revised regulations? Another 13 months? Two years? Some people 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 we have said time and time again, the final regulations represent an historic victory for America's public safety employees. The DOL is charged with enforcing these regulations, and it has been Secretary Chao's stated intention to strengthen and expand overtime for America's police, fire fighters and other first responders.

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.

Thank you.