Two Republican-backed bills with deceiving titles are making their way through Congress, and both threaten long-standing workers’ rights and the balance of power in the workplace.
The first, the “Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor Management Relations Act” (H.R. 1120), would halt National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) activities until at least three of its members are confirmed by the Senate, President Obama’s January “recess appointments” to the board are ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, or the first session of the 113th Congress ends. It would effectively end all activity at the NLRB, a federal agency that is tasked with safe-guarding workers’ rights, including collective bargaining and the right to organize. The bill passed the GOP-controlled House earlier this month and is awaiting committee approval in the Senate.
Next in line is the “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1406), which would allow private employers to skirt the requirement that they pay a cash premium for overtime work, and instead permit them to offer compensatory time off. Rather than giving working families more time together, as the bill leads people to believe, this wrongly-titled piece of legislation would end the 40-hour work week and time-and-a-half overtime pay as we know it. IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger wrote a letter to Congress encouraging them to vote against the bill, saying the new law “would make it cheaper for employers to demand mandatory overtime.” It’s currently awaiting approval in the House Education and Workforce committee.
“Republicans in Congress are again using misleading language to strip hard-earned rights from middle-class Americans,” Buffenbarger said. “The NLRB and the 40-hour work week are two vital tools for protecting our members and working families across the country. We will not sit idly by while Congress dismantles workplace protections.”