Sunday, May 12, 2013

Congressman Steve Womack teams up with pro-business forces to change the face of overtime - forever

Posted By on Sun, May 12, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Why Those Who Punch a Time Clock Should Pay Attention to the News - Chapter 906

The Scowling One, ever the champion of the working class, has informed his constituents about H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013. The House of Representatives passed this piece of legislation last week, and no doubt has high hopes that Democrats in the Senate who take corporate donations will roll over their constituents and vote for this as well.

According to Steve Womack, this simply amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) so as to allow private employers and employees to establish agreements that for compensatory time off instead of monetary overtime compensation.

This “option” is already available for those who work for federal, state, and local governments.

Gosh. That’s okay, then. Nothing to see here, folks. Everybody move along, now.

Well, maybe not so much . . .

I imagine that there may be two main reactions to this. The first will be from armchair philosophers who may or may not have punched a time clock for an appreciable period in their lives.

The other will come from those activists who have worked for years in factories, mini-marts, motels or wherever folks work. Their reaction may be loud and strong.

It has been a long time since I have worked for an hourly wage, but I dearly loved overtime pay - even when I hated working the overtime hours. Overtime work means time and a half pay, which can bolster your paycheck in uncertain times.

If it weren’t for overtime, many workers across this country wouldn’t make it financially.

The Democrats in the House, at least, had it right when they referred to this act as the “More Work, Less Pay Act.”

Basically, passage of this act could replace overtime at the time and a half figure with comp time off that a worker might be able to use later, most likely at the employer’s discretion.

The strong supporters of the working class in the GOP (and their paymasters in the business community) claim that this is something that workers actually want, because it would give working women (you know, folks the GOP traditionally falls all over itself to worry about) to get more time off. Also, those who care for sick loved ones will have more time off - but just not quite have so much money to spend on taking care of them, perhaps.

It’s a win-win scenario, damn it!

Well . . .

There are those - who can’t quite grasp the innate love and care for working men and women that went into this bill - who claim that it will also empower employers to require workers to work over their regular 40 hours, without any financial consequences for the employer.

Ah - we never worked overtime for the money anyway, we worked it for the pleasure of hanging out with our fellow employees . . . and our boss.

True, the bill does give workers the right to sue an employer if they feel “intimidated” - but don’t even think about going to the Department of Labor (outside agitators, anyway) for help.

Ellie Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, had this to say about the bill, “The Republican Working Families Flexibility Act is a fraud and anything but working family friendly. The act simply works to kill overtime pay and allow flex time only to meet the employer’s needs.”

While the White House has spoken out against the bill, the Obama administration has been markedly MIA when it comes to workers’ rights over the past few years. Just imagine a scenario in which President Obama caves on this, as part of a deal to appease Republicans over budget and tax issues.

There are still a few stalwarts in Congress who remember that America is made up of human beings, and not simply campaign contributors, but unless we all pay attention, and keep their feet to the fire . . .

Any guesses on how Mark Pryor might vote on this?

******

Once again wearing the Shroud of Chagrin: why I deleted yesterday’s blog

Believing that Life is a Work in Progress, I almost never (I can’t recall the last time I have) delete a blog, but yesterday’s entry was such a screw-up on my part that I deleted it last night.

Why am I wearing the Shroud of Chagrin today . . . so soon after removing it?

In my blog on the TV series Gavin and Stacey - both the BBC original and new Fox version - I wrote about the leads, and how young and sexy they are compared to the BBC version, where the leads were appreciably overweight.

But I was wrong. I was looking at folks in the supporting cast, and not the two leads. The two leads in the British version - as in the American version - are not how I described.

Putz.

I like to blame things like this on my cataracts, but I just screwed up royally (that’s a weak pun, since I am writing about a British show) and Mea Culpa seems to be the only thing I can utter around the house today.

Which is sort of inconvenient, it being Mother’s Day and all.

I got several emails on the subject, including some from England (which I read this morning) asking me about the blog. And I will tell you this:

The people who are fans of Gavin and Stacey seem to be the nicest people in the universe. I’m not sure that Steptoe and Son fans would have been so nice, when pointing out such an error on my part.

Special congratulations (and thanks to pointing me in the right direction) to former Arkansas Times intern Ashlie Atkinson, who will play the role of Nessa on the American version.

*****

Quote of the Day

Winter is not a season; it’s an occupation. - Sinclair Lewis

rsdrake@cox.net

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