Hundreds of workers rallied on the steps of the Labor Department in Washington this week to protest new rules that redefine what type of worker qualifies to receive overtime pay. The changes went into effect Monday.

Although Bush administration officials say more workers will actually qualify for extra pay under the plan, many labor unions disagree.

While the new plan almost triples the salary cap to enable more employees to qualify, labor unions representing professions such as teaching, nursing, and hotel and restaurant work say the new guidelines give employers greater discretion in deciding who is eligible for overtime based on what type of duties they perform on the job.

After performing an independent review of the regulation, three high-ranking labor officials from the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton came to the conclusion that the new rules are not beneficial to workers.

“More classes of workers, and a greater proportion of the workforce overall, will be exempt than we believe the Congress could have originally intended,” they wrote. “With the exception of the change in the salary level test, implementation of these new regulations will harm rather than promote and protect the interests of U.S. workers and their families.”

Specific wording was included in the new rules to exclude certain law enforcement jobs from the changes in overtime pay allocation, but some law enforcement professionals will still be effected.

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