Bush admin wants to make workers work longer hours for less pay
To paraphrase my boyfriend: I'm not exactly shocked
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal Washington think tank, examined a proposal by the Labor Department to change the criteria for paying overtime and found that it would cost 2.5 million salaried employees and 5.5 million hourly employees their right to overtime pay.According to the report, among other things, the new rules reclassify millions of workers (even those who mainly perform manual labor) as "professional," "administrative," or "executive," making them ineligible for overtime. Which of course leads to the obvious:
The proposed changes, which were first introduced in March, will be implemented by the Labor Department after a "public comment" period, which expires on Monday.
The proposal could also cause workers to work longer hours, since the Labor Department doesn't put any limit on the number of hours per week an employee must work, the group said in a study published on its Web site. ... "Once employers are not required to pay for overtime work, they will schedule more of it," the study said.The union hearing on the new rules, of course, has been mysteriously cancelled.
To be fair, the changes aren't all bad. As CNN notes, there is some help for low-income workers:
The good news is that the regulations would raise that cut-off amount to $425 a week -- about $22,100 per year -- actually adding about 1.3 million lower-wage workers to the ranks of people eligible for overtime, according to the Labor Department.However, as the EPI points out, this is still a relatively low cutoff point, and will not rise as it is not indexed for inflation. And 1.3 million workers gaining the right to overtime pay doesn't exactly make up for the other millions who will lose it. The Department of Labor press release, meanwhile, describes the plan in vague terms as "modernizing" and "strengthening" overtime, and "bringing it into the 21st century."
The AFL-CIO says that's a load of crap, and has some information on what you can do about it. From their website:
"As unemployment soars and America's workers struggle in a faltering economy, the Bush proposal would encourage employers to cut hiring and instead rely on fewer to do more work for less money," says AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney. "The proposal is an unjustified scorched earth strategy to decrease workers' paychecks and rights in the name of 'updating' rules for the modern workplace."For more info, see the EPI study.