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News & Press: Colorado Technology Industry

Computer Professionals Update (CPU) Act

Monday, October 15, 2012   (0 Comments)
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Background

Currently, the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act exempts certain professionals from its overtime requirement under the rationale that these professionals have more bargaining power than lower-skilled workers and often don’t work a set number of hours. In 1990’s, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) authored legislation that included a "computer employee exemption” in the FLSA. The Computer Professional Update Act (CPU), sponsored by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) would expand the definition of the kinds of technology workers who fall within this exemption.

 


Supporters of the CPU Act

The effort to modernize the computer professionals exemption in the FLSA is led by IBM as well as Intel, Verizon and various technology trade associations.

 

Comments from the State:

"Your companies and clients depend on efficient interaction with state government, Amendment S allows us to make sure you are working with the most talented people possible. Imagine how your business would run if the only way you could hire someone was by giving a standardized test and choosing from the 3 best test takers.

 

  • You couldn’t evaluate leadership qualities if you were hiring foreman.
  • You couldn’t take any intangible skills or talents into account.
  • And if you didn’t like the any of the 3 best test takers, you had to wait six monthsand start again.

 

You would go out of business. But that is exactly what we deal with in state government.

 

  • Hard to hire or promote the most talented people
  • Makes administrators reluctant to replace problem employees because of the headache
  • Directly affects our ability to issue permits and licenses in a timely manner.

 

Last year, we nearly shut down the steel plant in Pueblo because we couldn’t hire enough staff to get them an air quality permit. At one point we had a backlog of 1,800 permits and licenses."

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Opposition to the CPU Act

The U.S. Department of Labor is not inclined to change these regulations and argue that if passed, the CPU Act would take overtime away from millions of currently non-exempt employees. Letters of opposition have also been sent by the national teacher’s union, Communication Workers of America, and the professional branch of the AFL-CIO.

 

The erroneous argument is that the amendment’s expansion would include those that use a computer to do their jobs such as travel agents, teachers, hotel clerks etc., into the overtime exception. However, the updates would only apply to white collar professionals in the computer/IT industry who have specialized skills and perform very specific primary duties.


 

 


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