FOP confident of satisfactory resolution on DOL overtime regulations

09/02/2003

Today, National Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury announced his full confidence in the success of the FOP's efforts to protect the right to overtime pay for more than a million public safety officers across the nation. Following a productive dialogue with U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) officials regarding the proposed changes to the rules governing overtime compensation, Canterbury asserted that the issue would be resolved to the benefit of our nation's public safety officers.

"Thanks to the leadership of Secretary Chao, we have no doubt that overtime pay will continue to be available to those officers currently receiving it and, if the new rules are approved, even more of our nation's police officers, fire fighters and EMTs will be eligible for overtime," Canterbury said. "This development was possible because this is an Administration that listens to the concerns of the FOP, and because of their commitment to our nation's first responders."

On 31 March, the Department of Labor published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register to revise and update the exemptions from overtime under the FLSA for executive, administrative, and professional employees. The FOP was the first union to weigh in on behalf of America's law enforcement community regarding the proposed change and recommended the exclusion of all public safety personnel from the Part 541 or "white collar" exemptions from overtime—including those employees who are classified as exempt under the existing regulations. The organization argued that the exclusion of these employees was necessary because of the increased burdens placed on public safety officers following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

"Since the beginning, it's been clear from our dialogue with Secretary Chao and Department officials that it was never their intention to cut overtime for public safety employees," Canterbury said. "So we decided early on that the interests of our members could best be served by working cooperatively with the Department. While others saw an opportunity to demonize this Administration, we chose cooperation over conflict, partnership over partisanship."

Canterbury also noted that it was this spirit of cooperation that led DOL to agree that public safety officers should not be classified as exempt under the proposed regulations. "To the FOP, this was never a partisan political issue," Canterbury said. "Instead, it was a chance to make things better for police officers and their families."

"Thanks to the dialogue between the FOP and the Department, we are confident that when the final regulations are issued, that overtime pay will be available to even more public safety officers in the country than under current regulations," Canterbury said. "What we have accomplished by working together will be arguably the most significant victory for public safety officers in decades."

In a recent speech at the organization's 56th Biennial National Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao praised the FOP's work on the issue. "The bottom line is that Chuck Canterbury and the FOP are known for bringing facts and constructive solutions to the table," Chao said. "That's why you are respected, that's why you get results, and that's why police officers trust the FOP to look out for their interests."

On 1 September, Canterbury also traveled with President George W. Bush to a Labor Day event at the Ohio Operating Engineer's Richfield Training Center in Richfield, Ohio, where the President spoke on jobs and the economy. Traveling with key Administration officials afforded President Canterbury the opportunity to continue the dialogue on this important issue.

Canterbury concluded by clarifying what the new rules, if adopted, will mean to rank and file officers across the country: "Basically, if you get overtime pay now, you're going to keep it. If you're currently exempt from overtime pay, you may be getting it very soon."

The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States, with more than 310,000 members.