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Little Eric Cantor, the prancing political prissy who serves as the GOP’s House majority leader, apparently thinks he’s too slick to get caught in an outright legislative lie – or maybe he thinks we rubes are too dumb to figure out that he’s trying to slick us.
Either way, a crude deceit is at the very heart of his “Working Families Flexibility Act,” which he recently slid through the House. It eliminates a central piece of America’s middle-class framework, namely the 8-hour workday and 40-hour week. Under the 1938 Fair Labor Law, bosses can make hourly employees work extra, but only by paying an overtime wage for the added hours.
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Cantor claims his bill would improve this New Deal protection by letting corporate managers require extra hours on the job without overtime pay by offering “comp time” to the employees. In other words, work more hours now in exchange for taking-off those same number of hours later on.
With a wink at corporate lobbyists, Eric slyly refers to this switch as “women-friendly,” allowing working moms the flexibility to decide when to take time off. Therein lies the lie.
It’s not workers who get to decide, but bosses. Note that Cantor’s bill does not guarantee employees the right to use the time-off they would earn by giving up extra pay. They can use the comp time only if and when the employer says it’s okay – which might be never. Also, even if employees are granted time off, bosses can require them to be on-call during their “free” time.
Cantor’s bill is a con. It hands workplace flexibility to corporations, not to “moms,” while also stealing the hard-won right of workers to be assured of an 8-hour day, or extra pay. For more information, contact the National Partnership for Women and Families: www.nationalpartnership.org.
“Now They Want to Take Away the 8-Hour Day and 40-Hour Week,” www.alternet.org, May 9, 2013.
“House GOP Advances Fake Pro-Working-Mother Bill,” www.motherjones.com, May 7, 2013.