On party-line vote, House GOP pushes through comp time for overtime bill

WASHINGTON —By a 229-197 party-line vote, the House’s ruling Republicans brushed aside worker and Democratic objections and approved a bill to virtually force workers to take comp time rather than overtime pay.

Although the bill’s sponsors – the Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce – said the choice would be up to workers negotiating with bosses, workers and pro-worker groups disagreed. They said bosses would be in control.

With the House vote already lost, workers and their allies will try to stop the employers’ scheme in the Senate. The Steelworkers are already mobilizing their Rapid Response teams nationwide to lobby lawmakers.

“Don’t be fooled! The ‘Working Families Flexibility Act’ (HR1180/S801) is not good for working families at all. It changes our nearly 80-year system of overtime that discourages employers from overworking us,” their message says.

“Comp time gives employers even more opportunities to squeeze every penny of profit out of us – even if it means putting us in harm’s way. There are ways to make our workplaces more flexible and family friendly. This bill is not one of them. Please READ and SHARE our Rapid Response Action Call and be sure your local is collecting signatures for our petition urging the Senate to vote no.”

House Democrats said HR1180 would not only cut workers’ pay but also force them to take unpaid comp time, much later.

“This bill is nothing more than a false promise of time off and a pay cut,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Congress’ most-veteran advocate for woman workers and their families. It “enables employers to exert more control over employees’ wages and hours that hinders a worker’s ability to plan family time, to have flexible and stable schedules, and, yes, to make ends meet.

“Rather than helping workers earn better wages and more time off, this bill creates more power for employers to delay paying overtime wages for as long as 13 months,” she  added. “For people who need to work extra hours to pay those bills, this forces them into an impossible choice between time and money with no guarantee of time off.”

“This bill takes away overtime pay and, instead, a workers gets a vague IOU for compensatory time sometime in the future, and only if the comp time does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer – whatever that means,” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., sarcastically said.

The National Partnership for Women and Families, along with 92 other organizations, called HR1180 “a smoke-and-mirrors bill that would offer working people a pay cut without any guaranteed flexibility or time off… It is, at best, an empty promise that would cause considerably more harm than good.”

Other signers of the letter included the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Teamsters, the Auto Workers, the Economic Policy Institute, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, both teachers unions, Jobs With Justice, the Communications Workers and the Service Employees.

Source: PAI