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The Bush Administration’s Proposal Weakens Overtime Protections

August 8, 2003
Related Topics: Wages and Hours, Featured Article

The Bush administration’s overtime proposalwould deny overtime protections to more than eight million hardworking men and women, including an estimated 200,000 workers in Massachusetts. Firefighters, police officers, nurses, retail clerks, medical technicians, military reservists, tech workers and many more would be affected by the new rules.

    With a failing economy, more than nine million Americans out of work, and staggering health-care and prescription-drug costs, this is a burden America’s workers should not have to bear.

    Millions of workers depend on overtime pay to make ends meet and to pay their bills for housing, food and health care. Overtime pay constitutes a quarter of their wages. On average, the Bush administration proposal will reduce pay by $161 a week for them.

    President Bush thinks America’s workers deserve a pay cut, but I think they deserve a pay raise.

    That’s why Senator Harkin and I will offer an amendment on the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill to preserve overtime pay. The amendment is simple. It says that no worker currently eligible for overtime can be denied it as a result of the new regulation.

    A vote for this amendment is a vote for eight million workers and their families.

    The Fair Labor Standards Act was passed to create a 40-hour workweek, discourage excessive overtime and ensure that workers are paid fairly for overtime work. Instead of relying on fewer workers to work longer hours, employers hire more workers to cover their needs. That creates jobs.

Our economy is hemorrhaging jobs. How can the administration implement a proposal that will discourage new hires and hurt those who do have jobs?

    President Bush is presiding over the first decline in private-sector jobs in 70 years--since President Hoover. Our economy is hemorrhaging jobs. How can the administration implement a proposal that will discourage new hires and hurt those who do have jobs?

    The General Accounting Office has reported that employees exempt from overtime pay are twice as likely to work overtime as those covered by the protection. Today, Americans are working longer hours than ever before--longer than workers in any other industrial nation. At least one in five employees now has a workweek that exceeds 50 hours.

    Clearly, workers are already struggling to balance their families’ needs with their work responsibilities. Requiring workers to work more hours for less pay will add a greater burden to this struggle. Protecting the 40-hour workweek is vital to balancing work responsibilities and family needs.

    The Bush administration’s proposal weakens the overtime protections on which millions of workers rely.

    We will not sit idly by and watch Americans lose their jobs, their livelihoods, their homes and their dignity. We will continue to fight to restore jobs to the economy, provide unemployment benefits, raise the minimum wage and preserve the overtime protection.

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