Effect of FLSA ruling on waste industry remains uncertain
- The potential Dec. 1 implementation of the Department of Labor's new overtime rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) had been opposed by employers and last month's injunction from a Texas judge was viewed with relief by many. Though what this could have meant, and may still mean, for companies in the waste and recycling industry remains somewhat unclear.
- Waste Management told Waste Dive that the rule would have affected less than 1% of its workforce and the ruling will "not have a material impact on our business." Other companies of varying sizes either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
- The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) had been working to oppose the rule and plans to continue that approach depending on what happens next. While the Obama administration has appealed this decision, the rule's fate is uncertain under President-elect Donald Trump.
The proposed threshold of $47,476 for salaried employees to be eligible for overtime lands in between many titles within the waste industry. The majority of front-line employees working on collection routes or in processing facilities are paid on an hourly basis. Based on conversations with labor and industry sources this would mainly have affected employees in administrative roles. While larger companies may have more eligible employees, some smaller companies may have been less equipped to deal with the change, though exact figures are unknown.
David Biderman, CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America, said he received very few calls from individual members about this prior to the November injunction.
“It was not my sense that this was a high profile concern for people in the waste industry before the rule was invalidated by the court in Texas," he said. "For most people in the waste industry this is not a big deal."
The NWRA on the other hand has made this one of their top legislative priorities in 2016. Kevin Kraushaar, acting president of the association, said the salary threshold increase was widely viewed as too quick.
"The associate community here in the district has weighed in heavily in opposition to the rule," he said. “We will continue to lobby in opposition to the way that the rule came out."
Kraushaar pointed to a bill, H.R. 5813, introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) that would increase the salary requirements in multiple stages as the type of compromise that could happen next year. Another option is that Trump could direct the Department of Labor to withdraw its appeal if a decision hasn't been made before he takes office. Until similar legislation or new guidance from the incoming Trump administration comes out, Kraushaar recommends that companies wait and see.
"My advice is for companies to hold back and to not put in place anything new or different," Kraushaar said. "We should take a look at the court’s opinion but let’s wait until the Department of Labor indicates what it wants to do before we move forward."
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