Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace  
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Now They Want to Take Away the 8-Hour Day and 40-Hour Week

House Republicans are pushing a bill that takes away extra pay for overtime, substituting "comp" time instead.

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The National Partnership for Women and Families has a fact sheet titled, " An Empty Promise: The Working Families Flexibility Act Would Give Workers Less Flexibility and Less Pay." It begins:

Despite its name, the Cantor/Roby Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 sets up a dangerous false choice between time and money, when working families really need both. The bill does not promote family friendly or flexible workplaces. Instead, it would erode hourly workers' ability to make ends meet, plan for family time and have predictability, stability and true flexibility at work.

People Died to Get Overtime Pay

Leo Gerard points out that people died to get a 40-hour week, writing at Campaign for America's Future in " GOP Forcibly Making Working Families Flexible": "Trade unionists and labor rights activists died to achieve the goal of eight-hour days and 40-hour weeks. They were  shot and beaten in the streets during demonstrations organized by the eight-hour movement. Their slogan was: "Eight hours for work; eight hours for rest; eight hours for what we will."

Veto Threat

President Obama issued a statement saying he will veto this bill if it is sent to him. The statement explains that this bill "undermines the existing right to hard-earned overtime pay, on which many working families rely to make ends meet, while misrepresenting itself as a workplace flexibility measure that gives power to employees over their own schedules."

If Congress wants to help working people and their families, they should instead raise the minimum wage, fund enforcement of laws against wage theft and other employer pay-stealing scams, and make it easier to join unions. That would show that they mean it. Taking away the 40-hour work week and giving it a nice-sounding name like Working Family Flexibility just does not cut it.


Dave Johnson is a fellow at Campaign for America's Future and a senior fellow at Renew California.