Weil Likely Out at Wage and Hour, Despite Union Pleas to Stay

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By Ben Penn

Oct. 18 — David Weil will likely soon leave his job as Wage and Hour Division administrator, but that’s not stopping worker advocates from trying to squeeze a few more years out of him should there be a Hillary Clinton presidency, sources tell Bloomberg BNA.

Unions and their allied organizations are strong supporters of Weil, who assumed his post as head of the Labor Department’s WHD in 2014, and want to see continuity in wage enforcement leadership, a Democratic staffer on the House Education and the Workforce Committee told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 18. But because his family lives out of town, Weil is probably ready to depart when President Barack Obama leaves office, the staffer said.

Advocates from two groups that help shape Democratic administration labor policies both said they’d be thrilled to see Weil remain at the DOL if Clinton takes office in 2017.

“I certainly know a lot of stakeholders would love David Weil and [WHD Deputy Administrator] Laura Fortman to stay on for a few years, and I hope that would be received well by the Clinton folks,” Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, told Bloomberg BNA. Oct. 17.

Ross Eisenbrey, vice president at the Economic Policy Institute, echoed Conti’s enthusiasm for the job Weil has done at the division. Eisenbrey told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 17 that he’ll be meeting with the Clinton transition team, which includes two former EPI employees.

“If they ask me about the position, I would say find another David Weil or keep him if you can. I think he made up his mind; he’s heading back to Boston,” Eisenbrey said.

“Dr. Weil is completely focused on his current duties which include promoting and increasing compliance with our nation’s wage and hour laws so that workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” Jason Surbey, a DOL spokesman, told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 18 in an e-mailed statement.

Ensuring a Smooth Handoff

At WHD, Weil oversaw the DOL’s controversial regulation to expand workers’ overtime eligibility, which is considered among the most important items in Obama’s working families agenda. The rule is set to take effect Dec. 1, meaning the early stages of enforcement responsibility will be handed off to a new administration.

Weil would be one of many top agency personnel to leave by the time the next president is inaugurated Jan. 20. Still, Clinton’s mounting lead in the polls over Republican nominee Donald Trump is increasing the prospects of a same-party transition. A Trump presidency would almost certainly mean an entirely new crew of political appointees.

Both candidates’ transition teams are meeting with interest groups about policy preferences and personnel recommendations. While a Clinton administration could always opt to put in her own WHD administrator, she has supporters in organized labor who would like to see the division’s strategies advanced by Weil.

Investigators are already being trained to begin enforcing the overtime rule, which doubles the salary threshold below which workers are eligible for overtime pay. Still, the rule can’t be enforced until the very final weeks of the current administration.

Conti said the need for a smooth transition on implementing the overtime regulation is only a part of the reason why Weil should stay on. The major reason people “want to keep David Weil on is he’s done a great job,” she said. “If he is willing to continue to lead that agency, there’s a lot to be said for that.”

Before Weil’s 2014 confirmation, the administrator’s post had been vacant from the time Obama took office in 2009. The president withdrew his first two nominations, Lorelei Boylan in 2009 and Leon Rodriguez in 2011.

In addition to the overtime rulemaking, Weil’s WHD has advanced this administration’s efforts to root out worker misclassification. He’s also placed greater emphasis on conducting strategic, data-driven investigations in workplaces likely to yield Fair Labor Standards Act violations, rather than focus on responding to worker complaints.

Management attorneys and business groups have complained that Weil’s approach at WHD has been overly aggressive and not tailored enough to helping employers comply.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Penn in Washington at bpenn@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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