Heidi Shierholz

Heidi Shierholz is a senior economist and the Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute and is a former Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Recent Articles

Restoring Workers’ Rights

Employers have aggressively dismantled unions and impeded organizing efforts. That's why we need fundamental reform of labor law.

This article was originally published by the Economic Policy Institute . A huge swath of U.S. workers do not have the union representation and voice at work that they want and need. The share of workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement dropped from 27.0% to 11.7% between 1979 and 2018, meaning the union coverage rate is now less than half where it was 40 years ago. Are today’s workers just less interested in being in a union than workers of prior decades? Not in the least. The figure below shows the share of workers who are either covered by a union contract or report they would vote for a union if a union election were held at their workplace—60% in both 1977 and 2017 (we use these years here, instead of 1979 and 2018, due to limited data availability). Given the decline in union membership during those same years (also shown in Figure A), that share is now five times as high as the actual share of workers who are covered by a union contract. Why? Impeding...

Trump to Keep Millions of Workers from Getting Overtime Pay

Obama’s regulations said workers with incomes up to $55,000 could qualify. Trump’s new regs reportedly will reduce that to $35,000.

In 2016, after two years of preparation, listening sessions, economic analysis, and bureaucratic hoop-jumping, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announced an update to the rules governing which workers are guaranteed overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that nearly every employee be paid time-and-a-half for working more than 40 hours a week—but certain salaried workers can be exempted if they qualify as an “executive, administrator, or professional.” Because who qualifies as an executive can be tricky to determine, the law also sets a bright-line salary threshold, so that low-paid workers can’t be stuck working long hours without overtime simply because they have some managerial duties. When the threshold was updated in 1975, more than 60 percent of full-time salaried workers were under the threshold and thus automatically qualified for overtime. But the threshold has never been adequately updated since that...