Terry Shea, co-owner and vice president of Wrapsody in Hoover and Auburn and a member of the Alabama Retail Association board of directors, today told Congress that a U.S. Labor Department proposal to expand overtime wasn’t well thought out and won’t work well for Alabama businesses or their employees.
“We pay a very competitive salary and offer a generous benefits package for our type of retail business, which is why we have such an awesome team. However, the overtime rule ignores the fact that the cost of living in Hoover, Alabama, is very different than in New York City,” Shea said in her testimony on behalf of the National Retail Federation. “Such a dramatic, one-size-fits-all increase will have real consequences for my business and my employees.”
In an interview with the Alabama Retail Association before she left for Washington, Shea said, “This new threshold is not good for businesses in Alabama or outside of an urban area. It is not a good fix.”
The proposed rule change would more than double the minimum salary necessary for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer programmer employees to qualify for an overtime exemption. The minimum would go from the current $455 per week, or $23,660 annually, to approximately $970 per week , or $50,440 per year in 2016. In Alabama, the proposed rule could bring 48.6 percent of full-time salaried workers under overtime rules (State-by-state numbers.) If the proposed rule becomes permanent, Shea said she will be forced to convert her salaried employees to hourly workers. Off-site retreats, trips to wholesale gift markets and other development and team building also could be off the table under this proposal, she said.
“I’m not saying there doesn’t’ need to be an increase,” she said. “There doesn’t need to be this drastic of an increase.”
“A lot more needs to be done” in terms of research and getting feedback from small businesses before any change is made in the overtime threshold, Shea said.
Shea and fellow co-owner Sarah Brown founded Wrapsody in 2004. The two gift stores employ four full-time salaried managers and 25 plus part-time associates, depending on the season. Wrapsody has been an Alabama Retail Association member since 2005.
Shea was chosen to attend the NRF’s Retail Advocates Summit in late July as one of America’s Retail Champions, retailers who make a mark on public policy debates. She talked then with members of Alabama’s congressional delegation about this issue. Because of that interaction on her first-ever visit to Capitol Hill, she got the opportunity to testify on behalf of all of the nation’s retailers today. The other two witnesses represented restaurants and home builders.
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Our 4,000 independent merchant and national company members sell food, clothing, furniture and other general merchandise at more than 6,000 locations throughout Alabama. Alabama Retail promotes what is best for the retailing industry in Alabama and has been doing so since 1943. From legislation to education, through communication and member services, Alabama Retail members benefit from the value of membership in their association. Retail works!
Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 | 800.239.5423