GOP Figures Out A New Way To Screw Working Families-- H.R. 1406
Remember when the GOP used to name bills that were meant to pollute the air, the Clean Skies Act? Today Eric Cantor is introducing his Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1406), through Alabama puppet Martha Roby. It is meant to deny working men and women overtime pay. There are 168 cosponsors, not one of whom is a Democrat. In fact most of them are from Confederate districts that have been safely gerrymandered and where anti-union and anti-working family sentiment is part of the political culture. Most... but not all. Among the cosponsors of this bill who could suffer from their anti-worker attitude in 2014 are John Kline (R-MN), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Dave Camp (R-MI), Joe Heck (R-NV), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Buck McKeon (R-CA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Ed Royce (R-CA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Fred Upton (R-MI), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Chris Collins (R-NY), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Tom Lathan (R-IA), David Reichert (R-WA), Reid Ribble (R-WI), David Valadao (R-CA), and Paul Ryan (R-WI).
The progressive Democrat running for the seat Paul Ryan is now occupying, Rob Zerban, wasn't happy to hear his congressman is cosponsoring this anti-worker bill. But he wasn't surprised either. "If you are looking for the precise year Republicans are trying to roll back the clock, it's 1886. That's the year 7 people gave up their lives demanding a right to an eight hour workday and overtime compensation right here in Milwaukee at the Bay View Massacre. We just had a memorial this past weekend on the 127th anniversary of the event. Stripping employees of their hard-fought right to overtime pay is outright robbery, and that's exactly what this bill does."
Tuesday, the White House made their case for why the president would not sign this bill if it should ever pass the Senate-- which is nearly inconceivable.
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1406. This legislation undermines the existing right to hard-earned overtime pay, on which many working families rely to make ends meet, while misrepresenting itself as a workplace flexibility measure that gives power to employees over their own schedules. If the President were presented with this legislation in its current form, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.Keith Ellison (D-MN) was more succinct: "99% of Americans have seen their income decline during economic recovery. Yet Republican are pushing a bill that ends overtime pay." So was Tony Cárdenas (D-CA): "Tomorrow, we vote on letting companies stop paying overtime. Paying people less for working more? Is that what our country should be about?" Or, as Donna Edwards (D-MD) put it yesterday morning, "The only flexibility in the GOP bill is the flexibility for workers to be abused by their employers." George Miller tweeted this graphic to help make clear what the Republicans are up to:
H.R. 1406 would not prevent employers from cutting the overtime hours and reducing the take-home pay of employees who currently have the right to overtime compensation. The legislation does not provide sufficient protections for employees who may not want to receive compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay.
The proposed legislation also does not guarantee that workers will be able to use the time they have earned when they choose. Instead, H.R. 1406 could be read to provide employers broad discretion to deny requests to use compensatory time off if it would unduly disrupt their operations. Additionally, the bill fails to specify what remedy would be available to those employees who are denied their requests.
Finally, the bill does not fully protect a worker's right to receive monetary compensation for compensatory time they may have accrued but not used. The bill allows workers to accrue as many as 160 hours-- 20 full days-- but does not protect that accrued time if employers go out of business or declare bankruptcy.
The Administration continues to support and promote fair and flexible workplace policies that enhance worker productivity and simultaneously benefit employees and employers alike. We look forward to working with the Congress on proposals that will truly enhance worker-controlled flexibility and that ensure our American workplaces meet the needs of working families and a 21st Century workforce. This includes support in the President's Budget for state paid leave programs that do not force workers to choose between taking time off for family needs and receiving income, or even risk losing their jobs. The President’s minimum wage proposal would also support working families by making sure that all workers receive enough hourly to make ends meet.
Needless to say, the Republicans weren't enamoured of Alan Grayson's amendment, the Paid Vacation Act of 2013 and wouldn't even allow a vote. It's worth reading carefully, though, because it highlights the difference between a forward-looking progressive mindset compared to what the GOP is trying to do to further diminish ordinary working families and drag the country back in time.
UPDATE: GOP Law To Abolish Overtime Pay Passes
It'll never get taken up in the Senate, of course, but it passed 223-204, 8 Republicans voting with the Democrats and, shamefully, 3 conservative Democratic whores crossed the aisle in the other direction: Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN). Right after the vote Progressive Caucus co-chairs Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released a joint statement:
"H.R. 1406, which eliminates the right to overtime pay for overtime hours worked, is a direct assault on one of the most important protections American workers still have. Destroying common-sense labor laws may help big business and campaign donors, but it hurts the millions of working Americans who have been getting by on less and less since the Great Recession.
"The forty-hour work week was one of the most consequential and hard-fought victories for working people in our nation’s history. Working Americans who earn overtime pay should get it when they earn it. Employers and employees have agreed on this for decades. The bill passed by House Republicans today undermines this basic agreement.
"The gap between the richest Americans and the rest of us has been widening for years. In the last three decades, average incomes for the top 1 percent went up 277 percent, while average incomes for middle class families only rose by 35 percent. This bill lowers workers’ wages by taking away their hard earned overtime.
"This will hurt our economic recovery and make Americans’ lives harder. It’s time for Congress to stop wasting time and invest in putting the American people back to work. We should be increasing worker pay, not taking it away."