In May, President Obama announced a modification to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which stipulates that starting Dec. 1 most full-time employees making a salary of less than $913 a week, or $47,476 per year, would qualify for overtime pay for time worked over 40 hours a week; overtime pay rates are defined as time-and-a-half. Previously the salary threshold was $23,660. While in many commercial industries, $47,476 might be a typical starting salary, for many nonprofits, particularly in the arts, it’s close to or above where a lot of salaries come to rest. According to a 2014 report from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, surveying nearly 2,800 area arts nonprofits, employees of theatre nonprofits made a median average salary of $32,799.
On the worker’s side, the FLSA modification is unsurprisingly a much-welcomed development. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Dylan Jamison, assistant technical director at People’s Light in Philadelphia. Though he’s been full-time at the theatre for eight years, Jamison’s salary is well below the new overtime threshold (with health and retirement benefits). He estimates that over a season he averages 44 hours a week, but during tech rehearsals he can work up to 80 hours a week. Said Jamison, “I think it’s a change that’s a long time coming across the board. People need more support as my coworkers and I look toward starting families and moving on with our lives; it’s almost impossible at current salaries.”
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