Editorial Board

Syracuse University should be commended for extending overtime pay

Syracuse University’s decision to ignore a Texas judge’s injunction against President Barack Obama’s Fair Labor Standards Act is a testament to the value with which the university regards its employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act would increase the threshold for overtime pay in the United States from an annual salary of $23,660 to an annual salary of $47,476. This increased threshold — which has not been updated since 2004 — would allow 4 million people in the United States to qualify for extra compensation.

The act was set to be implemented Dec. 1, but last week U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ordered an injunction against the act.

Although many universities nationwide have halted implementation of the act following Mazzant’s ruling, SU is moving forward and putting the act’s principles into practice, demonstrating its ability as a private institution to stick up for what it thinks is right.

After reviewing more than 1,000 SU employees to determine if they were qualified for overtime pay, SU announced it would compensate the employees who would be eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“We believe this approach is the right thing to do for our employees who are critical to carrying out the mission of the University,” said Andy Gordon, SU’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer, in an email to the university community.

There is no estimation for the cost of implementing the Fair Labor Standards Act at SU thus far. Determining the cost will be a process and should become more clear as each college plans its budget and unit officers monitor overtime.

Twenty-one states and dozens of business groups in the U.S. have objected the Fair Labor Standards Act on the grounds that it would increase state government costs by $115 million in 2017 alone and give private employers more leeway, according to Bloomberg.

The unknown cost of the implementation at SU is a cause for concern, and it is important for the university to be cautious as it proceeds with implementing the non-mandated act.

Should the university determine that the increased threshold for overtime pay is costing more than it intended, administrators should be transparent and, if necessary, consider backing off the implementation of the act.

Despite the unknown cost of the new overtime pay threshold, SU’s determination to provide adequate overtime compensation for its employees is noteworthy and should be commended. By ignoring the federal judge’s injunction against the Fair Labor Standards Act, SU is using its status as a private university to enact progressive change.


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