Published on : Saturday, May 20, 2017
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is praising today’s introduction of The Travel Agent Retail Fairness Act by Representative Francis Rooney (R-FL 19th), which would remove travel agencies from an arbitrary regulatory “blacklist” that blocks them from utilizing an exemption from federal overtime rules designed for retail businesses.
“Not only do their employees necessarily work irregular hours helping clients facing travel disruptions, but travel agencies are the very picture of retail businesses and we think it’s indefensible that agencies are denied use of this exemption from overtime rules,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA’s President and CEO. “We are incredibly grateful to Congressman Rooney for taking up this fight on behalf of the 48 ASTA members in Florida’s 19th Congressional District and the broader industry, and will do everything in our power to see this bill through to enactment.”
“Eliminating harmful regulations on our small business community is a key component of economic growth and job creation,” said Congressman Rooney, a member of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which oversees labor issues. “The idea that travel agencies ‘lack a retail concept’ and therefore must be subject to federal overtime rules is arbitrary and overreaching. The exemption travel agencies are seeking is in line with similar industries and should be granted immediately.”
The Travel Agent Retail Fairness Act, introduced today, directs the Secretary of Labor to revise its regulations to remove travel agencies from the partial list of establishments having no retail concept within 90 days. In the interim, the bill states that “a travel agency shall not be considered an establishment having no retail concept” for the purposes of the RSE exemption. It was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
“We commend Congressman Rooney for his leadership on this issue, which will provide a measure of regulatory relief to local small businesses while supporting an integral part of the broader travel industry so critical to Florida’s economy,” said Eben Peck, ASTA’s Senior Vice President, Government & Public Affairs, who has worked closely with Congressman Rooney’s staff in the lead-up to the bill’s introduction. “We agree with Mr. Rooney that travel agencies should have an opportunity to claim the RSE exemption if they qualify for it. This is a fight worth fighting.”
The Travel Agent Retail Fairness Act will be at the top of the list of policy issues ASTA members will discuss with their Members of Congress during ASTA Legislative Day on June 7, 2017. ASTA members wishing to attend are encouraged to register for the event before the May 26 cutoff date.