GOP Continues March to End 40-Hour Workweek

Just two days after coming back from vacation, House Republicans are wasting no time pushing legislation that would hurt working families.

House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor joined Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), sponsor of the deceptively-titled “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1406), as they paraded the bill around Capitol Hill Tuesday. The bill would upend overtime pay and end the 40-hour workweek as we know it.

For example, under current law, hourly employees are paid time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 hours per week. If passed, this bill would give employers the power to take those wages and put them in a pot for future time off. This means employees wouldn’t get paid for all their work in a given pay period, which is bad news for families who are already living pay check to pay check.

The GOP is trying to sell the bill as an innovative way to help American workers better balance time between family and work, but in a letter to Congress, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger makes it clear that this proposal is no friend of the middle class.

“The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 established the 40-hour workweek, however, its only enforcement mechanism is the requirement that employers pay a cash premium for overtime work,” said Buffenbarger. “Comp-time’ legislation would remove this obligation from employers who offer compensatory time off instead. This legislation would make it cheaper for employers to demand mandatory overtime, undermining the FLSA’s only incentive against excessive hours.”

The White House released a statement Monday threatening to veto the bill, saying the legislation, “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.” 

The bill is also opposed by many organizations that fight for workers’ rights, including AFL-CIO, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Employment Law Project and the National Partnership for Women and Families.