Friday, April 12, 2013

The Capitalists' Flexibility Act of 2013

This is a truly rotten proposal:

This week House Republicans will introduce the misleadingly titled “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.” Touted by Republicans as a new comp time initiative that will give hourly-paid workers the flexibility to meet family responsibilities, it is neither new nor about giving these workers much needed time off to care for their families. The bill rehashes legislation Republicans passed in the House in 1997, some 16 years ago, and that they introduced again in most subsequent Congresses. Its major effect would be to hamstring workers – likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.
The proposed legislation undermines the 40-hour work week that workers have long relied on to give them time to spend with their kids. The flexibility in this comp time bill would have employees working unpaid overtime hours beyond the 40-hour workweek and accruing as many as 160 hours of compensatory time. A low-paid worker making $10 an hour who accrued that much comp time in lieu of overtime pay would effectively give his or her employer an interest-free loan of $1,600 – equal to a month’s pay. That’s a lot to ask of a worker making about $20,000 a year. Indeed, any worker who accrues 160 hours of comp time will in effect have loaned his or her employer a month’s pay. This same arithmetic provides employers with a powerful incentive to increase workers’ overtime hours. Instead of having to pay time-and-a-half wages when an hourly-paid employee works longer than the standard 40-hour work week, the employer incurs no financial cost at the time the extra hours are worked.

Let's smell the rot.  Note that what the bill actually does is give more flexibility and financial savings to the firms, not to the workers!  Imagine that, from the Republican Party.  The whole thing is like those environmental pollution initiatives called "Clean Skies" which aim to turn the skies permanently gray and poisonous.

And yes, this is a direct attempt to take away the 40-hour work week.  Even if agreeing to do overtime is voluntary under this bill, the current reality is that an employee graciously refusing such a wonderful opportunity would soon be looking for a new job.

Then the real jab-in-the-back of that wonderful flexibility:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is right when he says that working parents have a hard time being home when their kids really need them.  Parents need the flexibility to take a child who suddenly develops a high fever to the doctor or to attend a meeting with their child’s teacher to develop his or her educational plan for the coming school year. The comp time bill House Republicans will introduce this Thursday does not address these needs at all. Employees cannot just take comp time when they need it. Rather, the bill lets an employer who receives a request for comp time decide when the employee gets to take it. The employer can even refuse the request and defer it to a later time if, in the employer’s view, letting the employee take comp time will “unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.”

Bolds are mine, and so is the anger.