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The Virginia Senate may roll back a worker overtime pay bill from last year's session

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Lawmakers are considering a bill that would take away the ability of farmworkers and domestic workers to seek overtime pay.

Last year, the General Assembly approved a bill that would allow certain kinds of workers to seek overtime pay – farmworkers, domestic workers, airport baggage handlers. Now Senator George Barker of Fairfax County has a bill that would undo that.

The bill takes us back to where we were before the bill that was presented last year and that was misrepresented to the Senate," explains Barker.

Senator Jennifer Boysko of Fairfax County says the bill last year probably went farther than some of her colleagues intended.

"All of the facts were not laid out accurately, and so some people misunderstood what the bill actually had in it," Boysko says. "And you know how quickly bills move through the General Assembly when we have a thousand bills. Sometimes mistakes happen.

"Ooops. They accidentally gave overtime to farmworkers and airport workers," reporter Michael Pope asks.

“I don’t even… I can't answer that,” Boysko responds.

“Why is it important for these people to have overtime,” asks Pope.

“Well, a livable wage is a thing that I think is important for everybody and farm workers and airport baggage handlers and domestic workers do backbreaking work," responds Boysko.

Backbreaking work without overtime pay if Senate Democrats move forward with Barker's bill to undo the ability of those workers to seek overtime.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.