Congressman Moran’s News Commentary: New Legislation Benefits Employers, Not Workers

May 8, 2013 8:01 PM1 comment

This week, Republican leadership in the House brought forth legislation entitled “the Working Families Flexibility Act, H.R. 1406.” The title, however, is greatly misleading. A more accurate name would be the Employer Flexibility Act, because the bill would give employers the flexibility to deny their workers overtime pay.

H.R. 1406 would overturn a key provision of the landmark 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that ensures workers who work beyond the 40 hour standard work week are to be paid overtime – a rate that is set higher than the normal rate in order to keep the number of hours workers are asked to work reasonable. H.R. 1406 would undo this important provision so that an employer could, in lieu of making overtime payments to an hourly worker, make the promise of some future time off. And this legislation goes one step further. The time off promised in lieu of overtime payment would be up to the discretion of the employer. The employer could deny requests for time off for up to a year before the legislation would require employers pay out the equivalent in wages. This is great for your boss, but it doesn’t do much for you and your family.

In short, this is an anti-worker bill, aimed at harming our nation’s hourly workers – housekeepers, fast food workers, and store clerks. These individuals are some of those who need their overtime wages the most.

Gender is also a critical issue to consider as we look at legislation affecting workers: Women are increasingly the breadwinners in American households. A Center for American Progress study demonstrates that in more than two thirds of our families, women earn at least a quarter of the family income, and in many cases earn as much or more than their spouse. Among families with children in 2011, some 40 percent were headed by two working parents. Our federal policies must take this reality into account and meet our families half way by granting genuine flexibility while maintaining the important protections, like overtime pay, that help families thrive.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Republican Party leaders have sought to roll back worker protections. The past few years we have seen Republican Governors attempt to break up teachers unions and more recently, House Republicans repeatedly offered legislation to eviscerate the National Labor Relations Board.

If House Republicans wanted to help working families have more flexibility, they could start by undoing these earlier efforts to make life harder for American workers and join Democrats in calling for a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act so that women are paid the wages they deserve, or the Healthy Families Act so that families struggling with a child’s illness or other crisis could get time off to deal with those challenges without jeopardizing their families’ future. Another important improvement for working families Republicans have refused is to increase the minimum wage of $2.13 per hour for tipped workers for the first time in nearly two decades.

These ideas would enhance the economic security of America’s workers and help strengthen the social and economic bonds that knit us together as a people. I will continue working in Congress to push back against legislation like H.R. 1406 and protect the New Deal legislation that safeguards our workers and ensured our economic success over the past 80 years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000589931407 Jerry Boggs

    Re: “If House Republicans wanted to help working families have more flexibility, they could … join Democrats in calling for a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act so that women are paid the wages they deserve….”

    Probably most women’s pay-equity advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace older workers with younger ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here’s one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm (This bodes ill for Obamacare.)

    A thousand laws won’t close that gap.

    In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes, the path to a worse condition is paved with good intentions)…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages
    -refuse overtime and promotions
    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do
    -take more unpaid days off
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)
    -work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time instead of full-time (as in the above example regarding physicians)

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    More in “Will the Ledbetter Act Help Women?” at malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/

Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonTwitter Icontwitter follow buttonGoogle+Google+