House GOP pushes to replace overtime with comp time

ComptimeWashington (PAI) – Charging ahead with their ideological agenda, the Right Wing Republicans who run the House Education and the Workforce Committee voted on April 17 for one of their pet causes, replacing overtime with comp time.

The measure passed over the objections of the National Partnership for Women and Families, whose senior adviser, Judith Lichtman, told lawmakers the week before that the tradeoff – and particularly GOP claims that it would be a joint employer-worker decision – is a forced choice based on “false premises.”

Corporate chieftains and their political puppets have pushed replacing overtime with comp time for at least the past decade.

The bill is expected to receive full consideration in the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Passing the bill would cost workers money they would earn in overtime pay, cut the number of available jobs as employers rely on comp time rather than hiring more workers and would leave the workers without the overtime or the comp time, Lichtman said.   That’s because the worker could request the comp time, but granting it would be up to the boss.  And in the meantime, the boss could deny the overtime pay, too.

The practical effect, she says, is that the worker would take a pay cut and would wind up subsidizing the employer – because the worker wouldn’t get the comp time when he or she needs it, if at all, and would have no legal recourse against the boss.

Non-union workers would be particularly hurt, because they have no bargaining power in the workplace and live in fear of losing their jobs if they even ask for comp time off, or protest getting comp time rather than the overtime pay they need, Lichtman said.

“This legislation is based on smoke and mirrors,” she told lawmakers on April 12.  “This ‘flexibility’ bill offers forced choices and false promises.

“It pretends to offer the time off people need when they need it, but in fact, it is a pay cut for workers without any attendant guarantee of time. It also sets up a dangerous, false dichotomy between time and money when, in fact, working families need both.”

Rather than putting business in the drivers’ seat about giving or denying both comp time and overtime, Congress should enact true family friendly legislation, Lichtman said, starting with raising the minimum wage to $10.10 or more an hour.  That would help at least 30 million workers, the majority of them working women, she said.

“Working families deserve better than a bill that forces them to choose between overtime pay and the family-friendly policies they desire,” said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), top Democrat on the subcommittee that hosted the comp time hearing on April 12.  “We should be looking at ways to give workers more power over their lives, not hand over hard-fought rights won by workers to their employers.”

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