Molly Ivans has an interesting rant this week about the lightly vieled attempt of the Republican party to decimate the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, whereby hourly workers are guaranteed time-and-a-half payment for time worked beyond 40 hours a week. From the people who brought you the destruction of civil liberties under the name PATRIOT…they’ve come up with the Family Time and Workplace Flexibility Act (Senate version) and the Family Time Flexibility Act (House version). Don’t be fooled by these innocuous sounding names.
Pretty much, what these bills do is allow companies to not pay workers for overtime, instead insisting that workers put that time into a “time bank”. The companies then have 13 months where the employee may not be allowed to withdraw time, or get paid for it. So, big business gets a 13 month loan from the workers, for all intents and purposes. Employers prefer giving time off to paying overtime, because the extra pay creates budget uncertainties. But employers are often reluctant to schedule time off for workers, and workers, especially in a freefall economy, feel pressured to simply not force the issue.
Biggert’s bill appears to be stronger than earlier versions because it includes penalties for employer abuses, said Representative John Tierney, Democrat of Salem and a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workplace. But he noted that enforcement would still be difficult and that President Bush’s budget for 2004 would reduce funds for investigating workplace violations by employers.