Work week barbarity

I knew the GOP had a bill up to junk time-and-a-half in favor of comp time, but I didn’t know about this completely indefensible little detail:

The bills give employers a new right to delay paying any wages for overtime work for as long as 13 months. According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, under the new bills an employee who works overtime hours in a given week might not receive any pay or time off for that work until more than a year later, at the employer’s discretion.

They aren’t even trying to sugarcoat the shafting anymore, are they?

House & Senate versions available by searching for “Overtime flexibility” at the Thomas website, which apparently doesn’t have hard links.

Off topic, but I’d just like to engage in a little high school spirit and mention that Molly Ivins is up there with Wes Anderson (and James Gutierrez :wink: ) in the list of distinguished St. John’s alumni. Not only that, but whenever someone tries to paint it as some elitist institution catering to the wealthy and powerful, I like to point out that SJS rejected the application of one G.W. Bush for failing to meet academic standards. Go Rebels. (Johnny Reb, the non-PC mascot, is a whole other discussion…)

Very sad. But not unexpected. I haven’t been paid overtime in over 10 years. It is simply expected now that if there is work to be done you work overtime without being paid. Especially in IT where you are deemed lucky to even have a job.

well, i hate to defend republicans (who i probably hate even more than democrats and libertarians), but i don’t think that article is particularly truthful.

some quote from the senate bill, as listed on thomas.loc.gov:

`®(1)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), no employee may be required under this subsection to receive compensatory time off in lieu of monetary overtime compensation. The acceptance of compensatory time off in lieu of monetary overtime compensation may not be a condition of employment or of working overtime .

`(2)(A) An employee may receive, in accordance with this subsection and in lieu of monetary overtime compensation, compensatory time off at a rate not less than one and one-half hours for each hour of employment for which monetary overtime compensation is required by this section.

`(A) The compensatory time off may be provided only in accordance with –

`(ii) in the case of an employee who is not represented by a labor organization described in clause (i), a written agreement arrived at between the employer and employee before the performance of the work involved if the agreement was entered into knowingly and voluntarily by such employee and was not a condition of employment.

– so, taking comp time is NOT mandatory and uses the standard overtime rate of 1.5x time worked. and you have to agree to in, in writing, beforehand.

`© No employee may receive, or agree to receive, the compensatory time off unless the employee has been employed for at least 12 months by the employer, and for at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period.

– you must work there a year before you can use the comp time option. which means companies can NOT offer this as part of the standard compensation package and just expect new employees to accept it.

`(4)(A) An employee may accrue not more than 160 hours of compensatory time off.

`(B) Not later than January 31 of each calendar year, the employer of the employee shall provide monetary compensation for any unused compensatory time off accrued during the preceding calendar year that was not used prior to December 31 of the preceding calendar year

– you can’t accrue more than 160 hours, which means your employee cannot force you to accrue more time off than you could conceivably use. also they must give you money for time off not used as least once per year. that is where the “13 month” thing comes from.

`(6)(A)(i) An employer that provides compensatory time off under paragraph (2) to an employee shall not directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any employee for the purpose of–

`(I) interfering with the rights of the employee under this subsection to request or not request compensatory time off in lieu of payment of monetary overtime compensation for overtime hours;

`(II) interfering with the rights of the employee to use accrued compensatory time off in accordance with paragraph (9); or

`(III) requiring the employee to use the compensatory time off.

– your employer cannot attempt to force you to use comp time

i still hate republicans and i absolutely despise their new tax cut, but this doesn’t sound like something to be going crazy over.

Atrios put it this way:

WALMART: Maria, will you have a problem helping me out by working 16 hours tomorrow?

MARIA: No problem, Sir, you know I like to work hard!

WALMART: That’s great, Maria. Now, just so I can put this into your employment record, would you like to put the extra 8 hours into our Loyal Team Member Time Bank, where we’ll give you the 8 hours off some time in 2004, if you’re still working for us, or would you like the 8 hours in the form of extra pay in your paycheck this week? I haven’t asked Julia to help me out yet, but she’s a Loyal Team Member…

MARIA: [Maria has a sick child and needs the money for prescription drugs, and needs the 8 hours to care for the child. But if she says No to the offer, and Julia says Yes, and takes the time, Maria knows that any manager with budget responsibilities would give Julia time later rather than Maria money now. Then again, if Maria says No too often, she might lose the job entirely.] I’ll be a Loyal Team Member, Sir.

WALMART: Thanks, Maria. That’s great.

Hey, we have the same policy where I work – but with one caveat: To withdraw from the Loyal Employee Bank means to deposit it into your Not a Team Player reserve.

After all, what kind of dedicated employee wants to shirk responsibility and take a day off? Slackers, that’s who.

Ah, but hourly/non-exempt and salaried/exempt employees are different. They can do whatever they want to exempt people; you’re supposed to be self-directed managers. It’s a lot different when an actual hourly employee has to work overtime, which is what this bill changes.

Wal-mart already gets away with not paying employees for after-hours work (requiring them to clean up the store after close and not paying them for it) thanks to lax justice department enforcement. The new bill is an invitation for them to stack up all the 50 hour weeks they want without penalty.

What will probably happen is a few employers like Sam’s bastard child will begin unofficially requiring 50 hour work weeks, because with the 12-month delay option on paying out they can effective get a 9-month loan on 160 hours of salary this way.

Even if it wasn’t written to be abused, for hourly workers putting in 50 one week and 30 the next is not even remotely the same as two weeks of 40.

sounds like a class action lawsuit against wal-mart. seriously. the law specifically states that employers can’t coerce employees into using the plan. giving preferential treatment to employees that use the plan would be illegal.

oh, exempt employees get totally fucked, of course. that’s nothing new.

as for the 13 month loan thing: please read the law. it doesn’t allow the employer to defer all overtime payments for 13 months. it says that if comp time hasn’t been used after 13 months, it must be paid for at overtime wages.

In an ideal universe, where companies wouldn’t be able to get away with using it as I described, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But here on earth, where the DOJ refuses to do anything about even the most egregious labor violations? No fucking way.

Jason -

OK, now I’m confused. It sounds like you’re saying that there is nothing wrong with the law as written, but that it won’t be enforced properly. If the laws aren’t being enforced, what difference does it make what they actually require or prohibit? Put another way, how would change the law to improve its enforcement?

–milo
http://www.starshatter.com

I think he’s saying that with the way laws are being enforced now, this law has too many loopholes, or that the case would be too difficult to prove for someone who can’t afford a longer court process. Or something.

There’s a difference between “so not even remotely legal” and “only slightly illegal”. Wal-mart doesn’t make it’s employees work 80 hour work weeks for no extra pay because it’s so clearly wrong that they’d get smacked around by law enforcement. By contrast, not paying employees for the 30 minutes they stay after closing is the sort of thing that you might be able to get away, and if you do get caught the penalty isn’t that horrible.

This law will move the boundaries on what’s really illegal; suddenly, it’s ok to work people 50 hours for no extra pay beyond 40. Sure, there’s all these “details”, but those are just details, right?

Labor laws always have these problems because of the power imbalance between employers and employees. Even though it’s illegal to stop union organizing, employers get away with it consistently due to the way the enforcement mechanisms are set up.

good point on the enforcement thing.

hrm. does wal-mart really make people work after closing for no money? that sux0rs.

“Two years ago, Wal-Mart paid $50 million to settle a class-action suit that asserted that 69,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees in Colorado had worked off the clock.”

And this is the real kicker:

“Former employees at stores in California, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Washington said that many evenings when their stores closed, managers locked the front door and prevented workers even those who had clocked out from leaving until everyone finished straightening the store. Workers said these lock-ins, which aim to prevent theft, forced many employees to work an hour or two unpaid and enraged parents whose school-age children worked at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart officials acknowledged that employees were sometimes locked in but said the policy was to pay workers for every hour they were.”

They locked the doors and wouldn’t let workers leave!

I have a friend that does wage & hour prosecutions for the State of California. He has told me so many horror stories that this new bill looks to me like it will just open up a whole new area for abuse.

Atrios is linking to an update that the bill has been pulled.
Link.

BTW, the reason I thought this one was obviously bad was:

  1. Businesses really really want it.
  2. I don’t think you can find many minimum wage types who want it.
  3. Labor hates it.

If business likes something and labor doesn’t, it’s a fair bet it only benefits business.

So why does Labor hate America? : :lol:

I have this theory that there’s a white plutocrat somewhere named America that everyone’s talking about.

Just remember that the converse is also true. If labor likes something and business doesn’t, it’s a fair bet it only benefits labor. Last time I checked, it’s business that actually employ labor, so maybe it’s fair to listen to both sides and reach a compromise.