image of Donald Trump with text "Project 2025"
Molly Butler/Media Matters | Trump photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons

Project 2025 would roll back protections for overtime pay — a longtime right-wing media priority

Workers stand to get screwed out of overtime pay under Project 2025

Right-wing media have long railed against rules requiring corporations to pay overtime to workers for work done in excess of regular working hours. Project 2025 reflects this fixation, pushing for regulations and laws that would roll back overtime pay requirements. A survey has shown that this is wildly out of step with the sentiment of the American public.

  • Right-wing media have waged a long crusade against overtime pay while Democrats keep trying to expand legal guarantees

    Media Matters has documented right-wing media complaints against overtime pay for over a decade.

    In 2014, in response to President Barack Obama’s move to raise the salary threshold for overtime eligibility, a Fox News anchor claimed that overtime pay creates a “disincentive to stand out” at work and amounts to “forced income redistribution.” 

    Bill O’Reilly railed against the proposal during his prime-time show on Fox News, claiming the move might hurt workers. 

    The Wall Street Journal editorial page similarly complained that workers who want to get ahead would be told they “can’t work long hours."

    And Fox executive Neil Cavuto claimed that the proposal could lead to an economic collapse in the country akin to what Greece was enduring.

    The complaints continued into the last year of Obama’s presidency, as the rule to raise overtime eligibility was finalized. A federal judge eventually struck down the rule, but the Biden administration moved to increase overtime eligibility separately earlier this year; Republicans in Congress are already moving to overturn it. A federal judge recently upheld the rule.

  • Project 2025 aims to roll back overtime protections

    The radical anti-labor agenda from Project 2025 -- led by conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation -- calls for allowing employers to eviscerate overtime regulations and potentially withhold pay.

    One proposal is to allow workers to take vacation instead of time-and-a-half compensation, but at least 40 percent of lower- and middle-income workers already don’t use their allotted paid time off. Under this proposal, employers could coerce workers into “voluntarily” selecting vacation that they’re either formally or informally prohibited from taking.

    Project 2025 further recommends that workers and bosses agree to extend the overtime threshold from one week to a period of two weeks or one month. The likely outcome would be management overloading busy weeks with extra-long shifts and taking advantage of slow periods through under-scheduling — effectively eliminating overtime altogether. Relatedly, another attack on overtime comes in the form of allowing workers to negotiate away time-and-a-half pay in exchange for noncompensation benefits like “predictable scheduling.” In effect, this incentivizes predatory scheduling to coerce workers to give up overtime.

    Mother Jones has also examined overtime rule proposals in Project 2025. The entire article is worth a read. Here are some key excerpts — with a very telling exception when it comes to mandatory overtime pay for the Sabbath:

    The labor section was written by Jonathan Berry, who led the Labor Department’s regulatory office under Trump. During that time, he helped deny guaranteed overtime pay to millions of people and made it harder for workers to hold companies like McDonald’s liable for actions taken by individual stores, allowing companies to hide behind the protections afforded to franchises. Berry is a fairly typical GOP insider: He attended the 2000 GOP convention as a page, served as the head of Columbia Law School Federalist Society (it was awarded chapter of the year under his leadership), and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito after a stint in corporate law.

    Berry calls on Congress to pass the Working Families Flexibility Act, a Republican bill that labor advocates oppose because it would let employers provide comp time instead of time-and-a-half overtime pay. 

    In a similar vein, the plan calls for reinstating a Trump-era rule that made it easier to classify people as independent contractors who lack many of the protections enjoyed by employees. Berry labels this plan, which the Economic Policy Institute estimated would cost workers more than $3 billion per year, a part of “Making Family-Sustaining Work Accessible.”

    One of the few policies that could reasonably be construed as pro-worker in the document would require mandatory overtime on Sunday, unless someone observed the Sabbath at a different time. As Berry has explained, the goal is not to increase pay for workers but to push more businesses to stay closed on the Christian day of rest.

  • Getting rid of overtime pay appears to be very unpopular

    A new Navigator survey shows that 84% of the population opposes eliminating guarantees of overtime pay.

    Overtime Pay / Project 2025

    Citation Navigator

    Right-wing media are again complaining about the Democratic administration’s efforts to protect overtime guarantees. Project 2025 would only enshrine that they get their way — no matter how many Americans disagree.