Fleecing The Family
May 2, 2003 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Fleecing The Family. According to the article, the Bush administration is leading the charge with proposed new rules that will erode the 40-hour workweek and affect more than 80 million workers now protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act. It could mean the end of overtime pay. Sure hope you don't rely on overtime to pay that mortgage. "Everybody gets screwed on this one, except the bosses. Isn't it lovely?"
posted by archimago (79 comments total)
 
Right in time for May Day, too!
posted by SweetJesus at 12:20 PM on May 2, 2003


I'd like to read the bill rather than take Tom Paine's word for it. Is there a link to the pending legislation or proposed rules?

Not that I would put such action past the current administration - I just prefer primary sources rather than the highly partisan remarks of a liberal columnist.

But that's just me.
posted by aladfar at 12:32 PM on May 2, 2003


Text of the bill.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:43 PM on May 2, 2003


There's got to be someone here at Metafilter with some money. They should buy a large plot of land & we could start a Metafilter commune. The only problem would be that we would have to debate what & where to plant, what animals to raise, & the best way to distribute resources...

Never mind, I'll just move to Canada.
posted by password at 12:43 PM on May 2, 2003


What I want to know is, who decided I don't get paid for my lunch hour?

Consider-- since the inception of the 40-hour work week, the idiom for a 'regular job' is '9-to-5': 9am to 5pm. This is only forty hours per week if you get paid for lunch.

It used to be true that luch was compensatable time. That changed. When? Why didn't I get a say in it? I'm 'working' 40 hours per week, but I'm away from home for forty-five hours per week. '9-to-5' has become '8-to-5'.

(Don't you dare bring up the 'commuter time' strawman either; that's different and you know it.)
posted by Cerebus at 12:44 PM on May 2, 2003


Metafilter: That's different and you know it.
posted by Tacodog at 12:47 PM on May 2, 2003


Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Focus on the yellow ribbons while the national treasury gets looted by Energy Corporations with men in the Bush Administration. Focus on the high fives while 15B USD gets marked for AIDS when in reality it goes to "Christian Values" programs. Focus on the point man flying around in the airplane, and don't worry about the millions of jobs that have been lost since 2001.

Only a fool would vote for Bush in 2004.
posted by the fire you left me at 1:12 PM on May 2, 2003


Is it really true that the norm for holidays in the US is two weeks' paid leave? And here's me (in the UK) mumping about the tightwads that only give me seven a year.
posted by bonaldi at 1:15 PM on May 2, 2003


this from a man who's never worked a day of overtime in his life, I'd wager.
posted by Espoo2 at 1:19 PM on May 2, 2003


So?

I'm opening a store and plan to work 80 hours a week. With the current employment laws there won't be ANY jobs available at my store.

So let me know what's better: A job with long hours, or none at all?

Current job laws are causing the current unemployment levels. Fix them, I say.
posted by shepd at 1:21 PM on May 2, 2003


wait...SEVEN? Is that a joke?
posted by sodalinda at 1:21 PM on May 2, 2003


I'm opening a store and plan to work 80 hours a week. With the current employment laws there won't be ANY jobs available at my store.

hire two people to work 40 hours instead (double the jobs!)... or get someone at exempt status and salary them at a fair rate... and pay the benefits that go along with it being an exempt employee...

nothing to stop you from getting someone to work 80 hours... but killing the 40 hour work week is fucked. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I say.
posted by oninochuck at 1:27 PM on May 2, 2003




wait...SEVEN? Is that a joke?

No joke... In Germany, it's common to have 8-12 paid weeks off a year.
posted by pangmaster at 1:40 PM on May 2, 2003


>hire two people to work 40 hours instead (double the jobs!)...

Twice the headaches, twice the training cost. No thanks!

>or get someone at exempt status and salary them at a fair rate... and pay the benefits that go along with it being an exempt employee...

I'll see if I can find anyone! :-)

>nothing to stop you from getting someone to work 80 hours... but killing the 40 hour work week is fucked. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I say.

Just tell your employer you won't work it and quit if you don't like it!

Oh wait, you want your job pretty bad, right?

Can't have everything your way! (Don't take that personally! :-)
posted by shepd at 1:49 PM on May 2, 2003


So?

I'm opening a store and plan to work 80 hours a week. With the current employment laws there won't be ANY jobs available at my store.

So let me know what's better: A job with long hours, or none at all?

Current job laws are causing the current unemployment levels. Fix them, I say.


This isn't going to fix any unemployment problems. It's simply going to eliminate time and 1/2 and overtime, bringing blue collar workers one step further into indentured serveatitude.

Walmart and McDonalds already trick some people into staying after work and cleaning up off the clock. I wonder when that will be made legal?
posted by SweetJesus at 1:56 PM on May 2, 2003


Toward the beginning of the bill (thanks for the link, elwoodwiles), it says:

(r)(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.

I'm not a lawyer, but doesn't that say that they can't force you to accept comp time instead of overtime pay? If I'm reading it correctly, it just says that employers have the option to offer comp time, it doesn't say employees are forced to accept it, or that you can fire someone or refuse to hire them if they don't accept it. And it also says that if an employee doesn't use their comp time before Jan. 31, they get paid the equivalent in cash - it doesn't just disappear.

If that's so, then what's the big deal? Can one of you Mefites with legal experience check me on this?
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:58 PM on May 2, 2003


Silly thing is most people don't work 40 hours a week. they may be physically at their office/workplace for 40 hours but they work closer to 35 or 30, if that much.

seven weeks!?!? eight to twelve!?!? ...that's it I'm moving.
posted by srw12 at 2:01 PM on May 2, 2003


wait...SEVEN? Is that a joke?

I get six, and I'm in the UK.

The average here is about 4-5. Depends on the job. The average is a bit higher on the Continent.

(I think this is the real reason why Europeans tend to travel more than Americans, by the way; it's to do with labour practices, not obscure cultural factors).
posted by plep at 2:05 PM on May 2, 2003


I'm in the United States and get five weeks a year. And got that from day one. In another 8 months it goes up to 6.

Personally, I don't know what I would do with 12 weeks of vacation time. I barely use the time I have now. I enjoy working. Extended recreating is fun, for a while, and then I get bored. Call me square, I guess.
posted by obfusciatrist at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2003


RylandDotNet: I was wondering that too. I get suspicious of the language used in bills and laws because they seem to be purposefully vague. I wonder if the intent is to allow companies to abuse the law by wording it in such a way that would allow them to over-work employees until they are sued and the meaning of the law is determined by the courts.

It was my understanding that the time and a half rule was instituted as a way of limiting the work week to forty hours or less; the employer would have to pay a premium on labor that has already exceeded forty hours. It seems to be working too, many people don't work more then forty hours at a single job (though many work much more then forty hours at multiple jobs without the benefit of overtime pay.) If it ain't broken, don't fix it. Comp Time is not worth the lost overtime wages, nor does it motivate an employer to limit their employees work week.

I don't think this would help small businesses, as has been suggested. Small businesses avoid paying overtime by hiring part-time workers and salaried managers. In order to offer a viable comp time arrangement, small businesses would have to hire more part-time employees then they could reasonably afford. I'd say the effect of this on small businesses would be that they continue to follow the time and a half rule rather then offer comp time.

This bill is written with large employers in mind, employers who are looking to cut wages in order to improve their bottom lines and who have to work with unions and such.

It's hard to say if this will pass. It's also hard to say how involved the white house is in bringing this bill to the floor. It seems like the usual "bad idea legislation" we seem to be seeing alot of since we elected a republican congress though.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:19 PM on May 2, 2003


>Walmart and McDonalds already trick some people into staying after work and cleaning up off the clock. I wonder when that will be made legal?

Why souldn't it be?

If you're stupid enough to do it (as an employee), more power to the company.

It isn't as if you're forced to work at these places. Don't like the house rules? Leave. Start your own company.

We need to take away the employment laws and put the power in the hands of the workers again.
posted by shepd at 2:20 PM on May 2, 2003


Transcript of a lenghty Bill Moyers report on this wacky and confusing piece of legislation.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:29 PM on May 2, 2003


Not to go off track here, but...

obfusciatrist, where the heck do you work? I've worked at a number of jobs in the Upper Midwest, and all the salaried positions seem to start out with two weeks paid vacation, plus an extra week every five years or so. (Google brings up a number of sites suggesting the average U.S. vacation allowance ranges between 10-15 days.)
posted by mrbula at 2:34 PM on May 2, 2003


Shepd, it seems you smoke crack. Would you like to buy some crack from me? I've started a new drug company.
posted by password at 2:36 PM on May 2, 2003


No, shepd, I think that they're referring to another form of trickery, which involves "promoting" people left and right to assistant manager in order to get around overtime pay. There have been more than a few lawsuits (and settlements, I might add) because of this kind of bullshit.

As for the bill, it was discussed earlier on MeFi, albeit briefly (sorry I don't have the link handy). The gist of the bill redefines a lot of exemptions because, the argument goes, a lot of jobs are simply no longer around (arcane jobs that disappeared fifty years ago with wierd names like hayman and fish monger). Some people want to use this opportunity to redefine a lot of blue-collar jobs and redefine white-collar jobs, the "new" slavery. Machinists and laborers have unions. Computer programmers, call center help, "Hello-my-name-is-Civil-can-I-help-you" jobs and other service industry jobs need to be changed to allow for overtime.

What will probably happen, however, is that the blue-collar jobs that no longer exist will get scratched from the books, and that will be it. They won't address the white-collar slavery that's going on.

Oh, and to answer what to do with 12 weeks of vacation, you travel someplace warm and cheap and relax. I used to have 3 month vacations, too (and I'm in the States), and I'd use it as an excuse to travel the world. I've been all over the place, and lemme tell you, if you can afford the flight to one of the more remote Indonesian islands, you'll only need about $500 for three months of living expenses. Just sit on the beach and work on your tan.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:36 PM on May 2, 2003


Unions need to be made optional, IMHO.

I've been in one and I'd have made out better if I didn't have to pay union dues. Unions are beyond even being an anachronism these days. They're a racket and need to be made illegal, IMHO.

Whatever happened to freedom of association?
posted by shepd at 2:55 PM on May 2, 2003


We need to take away the employment laws and put the power in the hands of the workers again.

Um, employment laws aren't restricting employees, they are protecting them for unscrupulous employers. I love how conservative rhetoric is inherently ironical. Shepd's statement means the opposite of what it appears to mean. "Putting the power in the hands of the workers" by limiting their protections?!

On preview: OMG he's doing it again! Somehow making unions illegal (WTF?) allows for more "freedom of association." Wow.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:59 PM on May 2, 2003


Shepd: Not that you shouldn't be part of the discussion, but I'm curious about how this bill might effect you in Canada? Or have you moved?
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:03 PM on May 2, 2003


As I understand it, unions are not mandated under the law. Many unions, however, have obligatory membership as a part of the contract they negotiate with a business.

If the business finds a mandatory unionization unacceptable, they can address that in negotiation.

(I'm always puzzled by anti-union arguments, by the way; business should be allowed to do what it wants, w/o too many restrictions, but workers shouldn't be allowed to organize to protect their own interests. That would be detrimental to a free market.)
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 3:07 PM on May 2, 2003


Unions need to be made optional, IMHO.

Perhaps you've heard of this concept called the weekend?
posted by y2karl at 3:09 PM on May 2, 2003


Ehh, I don't mean to imply that that last bit is shepd's argument, by the way. Just an observation.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 3:11 PM on May 2, 2003


>Um, employment laws aren't restricting employees, they are protecting them for unscrupulous employers.

Yes they are. They are restricting them from the types of jobs I (and other similar businesses) could provide.

>Shepd's statement means the opposite of what it appears to mean. "Putting the power in the hands of the workers" by limiting their protections?!

You always give people more power when you give them more rights. Governments rarely, if ever, make rules to enhance your rights. Employment law is an example of that. What if you _want_ to do a certain job, but the law prevents you from it because someone in the government doesn't think it's OSHA certified enough?

>OMG he's doing it again! Somehow making unions illegal (WTF?) allows for more "freedom of association."

Fine. Make them optional then. That'll do just fine.

Yelling at Nothing, it's the mandatory membership I'm talking about. Unions in ontario are so rabid about indoctrinating membership they try to force workers to join them through harrassment and other underhanded techniques. And it only takes a 50%+1 vote to force you to join them. That isn't cool.

BTW: Just to let you know, the non-unionized workers at that plant make a wage similar to my dad, who also works at an auto-parts plant, and have MUCH more secure jobs as a result. In fact, the plant my dad works at plans to close down in 3-5 years because they can't handle the insane demands of the union anymore (like continuing to employ the person caught stealing $2,000 of parts monthly).

>Not that you shouldn't be part of the discussion, but I'm curious about how this bill might effect you in Canada? Or have you moved?

We're working on doing the same thing as the US. Well, actually, we've already done some of the things. It's helped us in Ontario immensely, I think.

I'm often interested in US politics. Really, our two socities tend to show the same reactions to changes in law, so it's good to see what's going on south (or north) or the border.

Sorry for the big comment. I tend to be chatty.
posted by shepd at 3:21 PM on May 2, 2003


y2karl, I don't believe in religious holidays, sorry.
posted by shepd at 3:21 PM on May 2, 2003


Yes they are. They are restricting them from the types of jobs I (and other similar businesses) could provide.

Thank christ for that, too. If only the laws worked a little better.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:24 PM on May 2, 2003


If you're stupid enough to do it (as an employee), more power to the company.

Of course, who but a complete idiot would continue to work at the place only place in town that doesn't require any particular training or education? Teenagers, drop-outs, and uneducated single moms (or pops!).

It isn't as if you're forced to work at these places. Don't like the house rules? Leave. Start your own company.

The reason most people put up with this sort of abuse is because their employer is the only employer around they can work for without needing much (or indeed any) education.

And really, very few people have the time, motivation and skills needed to start their own company.

Behold, the power of nuance.
posted by ar0n at 3:30 PM on May 2, 2003


>The reason most people put up with this sort of abuse is because their employer is the only employer around they can work for without needing much (or indeed any) education.

I agree. Why give even more incentive for people to remain uneducated?

Get rid of the laws protecting these people and just maybe they'll protect themselves.
posted by shepd at 3:35 PM on May 2, 2003


Governments rarely, if ever, make rules to enhance your rights.

Not to be overly snarky, but try explaining that to Martin Luther King Jr. Tell that to anybody the Fair Labor Standards Act covers, for that matter. People are restricted, however, from jobs they are not certified to do, an rightfully so. It's a matter of safety, in most cases.

My head hurts trying to follow your logic on this issue. You seem to be saying that by removing worker protections, workers will have more rights, but it is the protections that give worker's rights in the first place. Before 1938 and the passage of the FLSA, workers had no rights at all. Many were injured or worked to death, many were arrested and beaten for organizing unions. To roll back protections are dangerous both to workers and the economy as a whole.

I don't understand why you feel so oppressed by not being able to oppress others. Employees are people, people with rights, and those rights need to be respected and protected. Employers have no motivation to protect anything but their own bottom line. The free-market has no motivations but profit.

I understand compromises must be made to ensure both a safe workplace and a healthy environment, but your views seem pretty extreme and only work to benefit the employers.

on preview: That's extremely oversimplified, considering even if people are motivated to gain an education they often don't have the access necessary to compete with the wealthier, employer class.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:49 PM on May 2, 2003


on preview is responding to shepd.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:51 PM on May 2, 2003


I reread my post and this statement: I don't understand why you feel so oppressed by not being able to oppress others, was infamatory and unnecessary. Apologies. I stand behing the rest of it though.
I need to preview my posts with more in mind then just grammar and spelling
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:59 PM on May 2, 2003


shepd: I'm often interested in US politics. Really, our two socities tend to show the same reactions to changes in law, so it's good to see what's going on south (or north) or the border.

Understood. Thanks for the reply!
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:49 PM on May 2, 2003


In Germany, it's common to have 8-12 paid weeks off a year.

As far as I know, that's exaggerated. Six paid weeks is the law and the standard. My dad's been getting that for thirty-five years, like everybody else I know. (He also just got three months paid leave of absence so he could get his hip fixed -- for free, of course.)
posted by muckster at 4:53 PM on May 2, 2003


even if people are motivated to gain an education they often don't have the access necessary to compete with the wealthier, employer class.

That's largely an excuse. I come from a lower-middle class family in the midwest. My Dad never finished college, my Mom was a teacher in the public schools. My parents never contributed to my college education.

So I went to an inexpensive college. I worked hard, and now I'm in law school at a top 10 school. I expect my starting salary to be around $80,000.

Will I have to sell my soul for a few years for that kind of money? Yes. Did I have to sacrifice my social life to get where I am? Yes. But if you work hard and take responsibility for your life, anyone can make it with enough perseverance.
posted by gd779 at 5:08 PM on May 2, 2003


If you read that and just thought, "that's wrong! that's slavery" please understand that that's okay. But don't ask me to subsidize your lifestyle choice.
posted by gd779 at 5:11 PM on May 2, 2003


obfusciatrist, where the heck do you work?

I'd rather not say precisely who I work for, but it is a large financial services company (really a bank, but we apparently prefer "financial services").

Anyway, technically it isn't five weeks of vacation, it is five weeks of PTO, which includes any sick time you need. But I've only taken one day off for real sickness in the 4+ years I've been here. So it is, in effect, all for vacation.

Oh, and to answer what to do with 12 weeks of vacation, you travel someplace warm and cheap and relax.

Well, I prefer cool (my two years in Hawaii were mostly miserable due to the weather), but as I said, after a couple of weeks of "relaxation" I'm mostly going insane with boredom. If I didn't go back to work for my employer. I would stay at home doing work for other people.

I tried sitting on a beach all day once, doing nothing. I lasted about 90 minutes.
posted by obfusciatrist at 5:14 PM on May 2, 2003


we only get 2 weeks and you guys get multiples of that?

that's fucked up
posted by shadow45 at 5:18 PM on May 2, 2003


I believe the Republican motto is "Unions make Baby Jesus cry".
posted by mark13 at 5:44 PM on May 2, 2003


>we only get 2 weeks and you guys get multiples of that?

Even better, American companies in Europe aren't suffering because of the vacation benefits they have to give by law in most of the EU.

I do love how the Ayn Rand crowd comes out of woodwork even when what's being done is clearly to enhance the profits of a select few and not to free any workers from centrally controlled situations.
posted by skallas at 6:13 PM on May 2, 2003


NOW IS THE TIME FOR REVOLUTION!!!!!!!!!!1
posted by delmoi at 6:15 PM on May 2, 2003


Actually, if I read Ayn Rand right, in an ideal world you wouldn't need laws protecting workers rights because the owners of companies would be fair are responsible for their workers. Unfortunately we live in a world where the bottom line is above everything else. I am positive that if it wasn't so expensive for companies to have injured and killed employees we wouldn't have safety programs and required safe manufacturing procedures. Employees would be disposable. I have worked for several different companies of different sizes, and I am way too cynical to believe that any of them could give a crap about me or my welfare.
posted by Eekacat at 7:13 PM on May 2, 2003


You wanna know what's worse than only getting two week paid weeks off at your salaried job?

Getting zero paid days off from your waged job. Wanna take a day off? At best it's a pay cut. Place of employment closed for a holiday? Pay cut. Get sick? Pay cut.

Yeah, what the USA needs is less worker protection. That sounds great.

</vent>
posted by amery at 7:26 PM on May 2, 2003


Just as a data point, in Japan it's 2-3 weeks of vacation and quite a few more holidays than in the US. Realistically though, the Japanese (who do have jobs) work insane hours.
posted by gen at 7:49 PM on May 2, 2003


I recall listening to this very similar debate on NPR a few months ago. They were debating the issue of mandatory 4-6 week vacations versus letting each individual set the terms of their vacation pay.

I have to agree with one gentleman who said, "hey, since my first day working I negotiated a five week per year vacation package as part of my compensation in lieu of other financial benefits. Why? Because I value the time."
posted by tgrundke at 7:50 PM on May 2, 2003


I've been in one and I'd have made out better if I didn't have to pay union dues. Unions are beyond even being an anachronism these days. They're a racket and need to be made illegal, IMHO.

Well, I'm just going by my own experience here, but in the years I worked as a university secretary and as a member of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees), I made out like this: a decent starting wage, overtime pay, regularly scheduled wage increases, three weeks paid vacation to start (moving to five), flex time, job shares, carefully followed grievance procedures, layoff protection, a monitored job description, my job reclassified at a higher wage when I took on duties above my level, computer training programs, an exercise room free for employee use, sick pay, sick leave, automatic transfer to another position when the institute I was working for lost its budget (the job was a lower classification, but I got to keep my current wage level), pension plan, an rrsp savings plan, a year's unpaid leave of absence to attend grad school with the assurance that my job would be there when I came back, and prorated payment of my tuition (100% when I was working full time).

I owe all of that to the women (and it was all women, as so many clerical workers are) who stood on picket lines, and put in much hard work on contract negotiations. If it hadn't been for the Union, I would have been making 10 bucks an hour, with minimal benefits. I know what I would choose.
posted by jokeefe at 8:15 PM on May 2, 2003


(He also just got three months paid leave of absence so he could get his hip fixed -- for free, of course.)

That's the other great thing about Germany: No taxes! Medical care is free.

Especially if you're among the 10%+ unemployed; then you can get free stuff and you don't even have to work at all.

With national productivity lagging, how long can this continue?
posted by Ayn Marx at 8:44 PM on May 2, 2003


Get rid of the laws protecting these people and just maybe they'll protect themselves.

Uhh. That'd be the union and the rights it fights for for the good of the parts of the union. And uhh, that would be the reason that the laws are on the book that the Bush administration is cynically trying to overturn. Uhh, that's pretty much how workers protect themselves on planet Earth.

Oh and Ayn Marx, how much bullshit you want us to buy?

"With national productivity lagging" you write and then you point us to a gargantuan International Monetary Fund report? To rectify your arguable, cynical points about Germany? Huh?

How vague and ironic can you get?
posted by crasspastor at 9:33 PM on May 2, 2003


I hate big business, and I think there needs to be some serious reform. However, this article is a big steaming pile of crap.
  • Exclude previously-protected workers who were entitled to overtime by reclassifying them as managers. Companies are already using this ploy where they can get away with it. Say you're frying burgers on the night shift at McDonald's, making overtime, and suddenly -- congratulations -- you're the assistant night manager, with no raise and no overtime.
  • Eliminate certain middle-income workers from overtime protections by adding an income limit, above which workers no longer qualify for overtime. You like that? You make too much to earn overtime.
  • Remove overtime protection from large numbers of workers in aerospace, defense, health care, high tech and other industries.
I cannot find any of these points at all in the text of the bill. If someone would kindly point me to them....

The trick is, employers get to substitute comp time for overtime, and the employers get the right to decide when -- or even if -- a worker gets to take his or her comp time.

WRONG from Section 2 of the bill:

`(r)(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.

Subparagraph B says that if you have a collective bargaining agreement that says that you have to take comp time, well then, you have to take comp time.

Also Paragraph 3:
`(B) The compensatory time off may only be provided to an employee described in subparagraph (A)(ii) if such employee has affirmed, in a written statement that is made, kept, and preserved in accordance with section 11(c), that the employee has chosen to receive compensatory time off in lieu of monetary overtime compensation.

Well, they do have some say as to when you can take it, but they can't stop you from taking it:

`(9) An employee--

`(A) who has accrued compensatory time off authorized to be provided under paragraph (2); and

`(B) who has requested the use of the accrued compensatory time off;

shall be permitted by the employer of the employee to use the accrued compensatory time off within a reasonable period after making the request if the use of the accrued compensatory time off does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.


Even if you do choose comp time, you can only accept 160 hours, and then you must receive over time pay:

(Paragraph 3)
`(D) An employee shall be eligible to accrue compensatory time off if such employee has not accrued compensatory time off in excess of the limit applicable to the employee prescribed by paragraph (4).

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


Also, they can't force you to take comp-time as opposed to over time. They reiterate this baseless claim in this paragraph:
The legislation provides no meaningful protection against employers requiring workers to take time off instead of cash and no protection against employers assigning overtime only to workers who agree to take time instead of cash.

And when we look to the bill:
`(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.


Seriously, did they even read the bill?

The bills give employers a new right to delay paying any wages for overtime work for as long as 13 months.

Again, this is another complete fabrication. The bill says:

(Paragraph 4)
`(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

So if you choose comp time and don't use it before Jan. 31 then they give you a check equal to the over time pay you would have received. But wait, there's more! If you get a raise between the time you collect the comp time and Jan. 31 they have to pay you at the higher rate:

`(8)(A) If compensation is to be paid to an employee for accrued compensatory time off, the compensation shall be paid at a rate of compensation not less than--

`(i) the regular rate received by such employee when the compensatory time off was earned; or

`(ii) the final regular rate received by such employee;

whichever is higher.


These all come from Section 2, but Section 3 is the same thing for people who have a biweekly work schedule or more complicated flexible credit hour programs.

Tompaine.com must have an extremely low opinion of it's readers if it's going to make bold faced lies like the ones I've exposed above. No wonder didn't link to the bills actual text. If they had, they might have, you know, read it.
posted by betaray at 11:52 PM on May 2, 2003


jokeefe, my experience was opposite to yours!

I'm an (ex)OPSEU member, and (ahem) helped start the fight that's now going on between colleges and workers about how student workers are somewhat fulltime and somewhat part time.

When I was told this came up at the last bargaining (oh, a few years ago now) and it was brushed aside, I was enraged. Words couldn't describe what I would have liked to say to the union at that point. Ignoring my rights because it would be an inconvenience to discuss them! Disgusting that I pay these people to work this out.

And the broken promises that this would be sorted out before college ended and I and most others in the forefront of this debate lost their jobs. The backdoor meetings we weren't invited to.

I'm not happy, to say the least. I'd have been better off paying no union dues than having paid them and received no protection from their racket.

Never again. If my business doesn't work out, I'll never work for a unionized company. My rights are too important to let someone else deal with them.

>That'd be the union and the rights it fights for for the good of the parts of the union. And uhh, that would be the reason that the laws are on the book that the Bush administration is cynically trying to overturn.

Well, read my story. If you want, look up my name. It's there. I've been in the circle, and am happy to be out. Unions don't fight for the worker, they fight to keep the worker from settling their own deals. They fight to keep me from exercising my right to build my own contract with my employer. They fight to keep religious holidays.

I have other cases I'd mention, but why bother?

If I were able to protect myself, I'd have sued my employer for breach of contract. But because I have a union, I really can't. Instead I'm stuck having paid a bill, gotten no services, and begging for something to happen now that administration has changed hands.

Pffft, like hell that'll happen.
posted by shepd at 12:00 AM on May 3, 2003


I was using the Senate bill, but the House bill is not significantly different. The only real difference between the two that I noticed on a quick read through is that the Senate bill requires you to have worked 1,250 hours before you can receive comp time and the House bill requires you to only have worked 1,000 hours. Other than that, the Senate bill is just more comprehensive.
posted by betaray at 12:01 AM on May 3, 2003


Oh great, and I'm the crazy one for going all apeshit in response to the shaky arguments thrown out, like what shepd's currently offering.

Unions don't fight for the worker, they fight to keep the worker from settling their own deals

That's exactly the point- when each worker fought for their own deal, they were eviscerated- one worker out of hundreds can't argue he deserves better treatment, when the next dumb potato-eating Irishman fresh off the boat still had all his limbs. Work 80 hours, the boss-man said. Work, or you can't even make the pittance you earn to put a little food on the table for your kids (who are so hungry and tired when the li'l darlings come home from those 14-hour stints in the Triangle Shirt Factory). Then the 300 workers got together, and said we all want to have some daylight of our own, to be able to afford a little bit of life for ourselves and our families.

The result? These people got their wages, their 40-hour work weeks, their workplace safety protections. Now, once these folks had longer, healthier, stabler lives, endowed with this new "leisure time" and a steady living wage to support a family, a middle class began to erupt in the US. This resulted in a greater and greater market for luxury or leisure time goods and services to occupy ourselves, which meant more people got jobs to build and provide these things, which meant more wealth was created, etc, etc. These evil unions and their actions to pull all of us out of the feudalistic lifestyle so prevalent for centuries can be seen as one of the reasons we live today in an America that has ordinary people living a life of immense luxury, tooling around in their SUVs to the Starbucks before going to their jobs at Microsoft, then heading home to catch some Tivo shows before meeting up with friends for drinks to plan that weekend camping and kayaking trip with their new REI gear.

And you, apparently, want to undo that progress. Wonderful!

What I don't get, shepd, is that you've admitted you are out of the union game already. So why the chip on the shoulder? For every one like yourself with a bad union story, there are several non-union people with horror stories of their own. The fact is, bad things can happen because plenty of people in all walks of life will always find a way to exploit others. We take actions, including laws we make and embrace, as groups and as a society to help minimize the damage or exploitation that can be institutionalized to wring out every last drop of blood and sweat from unsuspecting or desperate people. There are places you can go to not be in a union- including opening your own non-union business of one- so why don't you exercise that freedom of association, and leave the rest of us who know realize the value of collective bargaining and unions to enjoy the benefits of our actions?

Your own quasi-libertarian philosophy, such as your dismissal of the realities of class structures and economic strata, suggests that you believe everyone should have the latitude to life their lives without some larger organization forcing them to do otherwise. So why the desire to make unionization, or other pro-labor actions, illegal? Why the desire to demonize and stop people taking actions for their own self-interest? Why is it so many people think that when freedom is exercised in ways we decide we didn't want, that maybe freedom wasn't important after all?
posted by hincandenza at 1:18 AM on May 3, 2003


shepd, other union-bashers: What you need is stronger unions. You aren't complaining about unions; only unions that don't do their duty, and there are a lot of crappy unions. The last union job I had, this guy was telling me about how everyone had been screwed over in the past year. I said, "Jesus Christ, don't you have a union? I wouldn't put up with that shit."

The punchline: He said, "I'm the union steward."

There are a lot of unions that only make things worse. This is not an inherent flaw in unions, though. It is a problem of stupid people running the union.

gd779:

You have a real feel-good story, but the problem is that to "make it" by your method would require holding a job. This comment is not nearly as sarcastic as it might sound. I really do believe that selling out to the man for my "middle-class achievement award" is not a life worth living. If anything, it's an easy way out for people who are not willing to make real achievements, IMHO.
posted by son_of_minya at 1:28 AM on May 3, 2003


hicandenza, I've said, if you want to form your own cabal and call it a union, and bargain your rights en masse, that's fine -- just don't force me to join. I've already retracted my unions shouldn't exist at all statement as it was rightly pointed out as contradictory.

Next, we no longer live in the society of those bad times. The fact is that workers can find safe work with or without a union. Don't believe me? Ask your local computer programmer if he feels "at risk" on the job. He isn't in a union. Unions are an anachronism from a time of social anarchy we've thankfully put behind us. At the time of original unions blacks weren't allowed to mix with whites in America, and we in Canada were jailing up Japanese people for the hell of it. Thankfully I don't blame that on them. That would be ignorant.

>What I don't get, shepd, is that you've admitted you are out of the union game already. So why the chip on the shoulder?

Because I paid for services that weren't rendered. I'm considering suing the union to get my dues back, as they have clearly been misspent (it's been almost a year without solving my simple problem, not to mention over 6 months without any correspondence or contact on the matter). To that point, I've been gathering evidence, and have many letters (including one from the president) indicating I am _not_ a union member. Why collect dues then?

Oh, that and my job just ended a week or so ago, so it's really fresh.

These evil unions are spending *MY* hard earned money to support political groups I would never even DREAM of supporting myself. My union has NO RIGHT to spend my dues on anything but supporting me and my fellow workers. Instead a surprising amount of the money is funneled into Canada's socialist/communist parties, and it stinks. In fact, it stinks enough a judged ruled on it, and if it weren't for the fact that I didn't even have a union CARD (but was paying dues) for years, I'd have done what Merv Lavigne did (see, this isn't the first time OPSEU has abused their power -- they have a long history of being illegal vigilantes).

Why not see a list of cases of unionized abuse of workers? Why should a memeber of an association be able to tell me if I can come to work or not when they have no stake in the company whatsoever? That's for my boss and me to decide, NOT the union.

>What you need is stronger unions.

What I needed was NO union. At least then I wouldn't be out my dues. And there's thousands of happy, safe, non-unionized workers nearby me that strongly agree (and continue to do so, repeatedly, when they are harrassed by forced union votes, and picket lines at work).

I see no need for "mob order" in today's society. The fact is that companies are self-policed by individual workers. If that non-unionized company (Toyota Cambridge) were to treat it's workers poorly, it would suffer consequences, such as having to put up with a union that would bleed it dry (remember, the workers have had plenty of opportunity to do this). Clearly this is enough to keep them from doing it, despite the slump in the market.

As a show of support, our family bought one of their cars. It's better built than any union product we ever used. Oh, and it's safer to boot.
posted by shepd at 2:22 AM on May 3, 2003


Shepd you are possibly insane. You have ideas galore but no causal links between the ideas themselves. I'm too tired to refute you point by point. But you do have the ability to do it yourself:

You really need to think about the alliances like humans make among themselves. Why they've done it in the past and why certain contemporary souls seek to maintain the power of collectivity today. You really have too much faith in the belief that doing absolutely nothing is best. You don't like your union you say? Run for office. Become a fucking active member of it. Don't throw it out.
posted by crasspastor at 3:39 AM on May 3, 2003


Don't like that your union gives money to a political party? How about the fact that your corporate masters giving political gifts to whomever will reward them with personal favours later? Coming out of the same pool of cash as your wages, no less.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:47 AM on May 3, 2003


Unions are fine in theory - spotty in practice. The place Unions suck is the intimidation ... but that can be solved with more aggressive criminal prosecution for the organized crime unions so frequently are.

The thing Unions should >NOT< be is mandatory. Let them compete... if I am a company I should be able to hire union or non-union labor. If a union wants me to use their people - then let them make their people an advantage.

A "union" electrician should be a BETTER electrician than a non-union one - otherwise I'll just pass 'em by. No harm, no foul. Basically, a guild.

But no - unions frequently strive for the LEAST productive or useful people they can provide, so you need more of them. We have all seen this stupidity in action.

I have worked at more than one firm (AT&T is one) where a programmer was not allowed to move his monitor from one cubicle to another on his own because they needed to call a "porter" to do it by union contract.

What kind of Bulls*t is that?

The only way it makes sense if if the unions KNOW they aren't actually needed and are artificially keeping demand for their people high. Screw that... if you have enough work for a "porter" fine, if you don't then you should be free to fire him.

Of course, if a company wants to shackle themselves to a union contract because there is a tangible benefit (better employees or something) then I guess they will have to put up with things like this - but they should be completely free to not go that rout and simply not allow a union in their shop by the expedient of firing anyone who is part of one or joins one.

Anythign else but choice is extortion.
posted by soulhuntre at 6:31 AM on May 3, 2003


soulhuntre: ...but they should be completely free to not go that rout and simply not allow a union in their shop by the expedient of firing anyone who is part of one or joins one.

whoa, whoa, whoa! Firing anyone who joins a union? You need to slow down there.

I was agreeing with everything you wrote, up until that insanity. If memory serves me correctly, it's illegal to fire someone for joining or attempting to start a union. That's why Walmart completely closed down its meat department rather than fire the workers who were forming a union. (There is a long history of their union busting tactics online.)

It is screwy the way some companies have only union workers, and those are actually the worst unions I've ever been a member of. I wondered if maybe the union was actually formed by the company, as a rouse to prevent a real union from being started.

It's also a sure formula for getting lazy, ignorant, status-seeking fucks in key leadership positions; for the simple reason that regular employees are more likely to run for office if they think of it as just another part of their job. What the union needs is radical, take-no-prisoners, advocates. The union has no place for complacency, cronyism, or any other common vice of the workplace. It should be for the dedicated only. (Which, in theory, is the reason for elections.)

shepd: Just that line about a computer programmer not needing a union. I think what you're really saying is that jobs themselves are less dangerous, which is a delusion of the "information age." There are still factory jobs, and there are still people working with dangerous chemicals. There are even coal miners.

One good thing is we have more government agencies now, which can take reports of unsafe work conditions and levy fines against employers. That makes the union's job much easier, but safety is only one part of overall concern for the workers' livelihood.
posted by son_of_minya at 10:49 AM on May 3, 2003


crasspastor, I think you're wrong.

There are people with degrees that firmly support what I'm saying. Unions have little purpose in today's society, although, on the face of it, one does have the freedom to form one, but that shouldn't extend to force.

If they did have a purpose, they would have protected me, and they would have let my dad's work fire hundreds of insane workers (you have to be insane to walk by POLICE OFFICERS with a bag full of swag).

Unions helped to bring us the scourge and logical fallacy of minimum wage.

I personally they're a bad idea in general, but they shouldn't be totally outlawed, just not made mandatory. You never know, a non-corrupt one might possibly exist (I haven't seen one yet, and that includes CUPE from above).

Tell me, in the past 40 years, what has a union done for you? If you say a lot, tell me, would you consider the amount of union abuse you may/may not have seen a lot?

Is it worth even ONE person losing their liberty to protect you from having to make your own decisions.

I say: NO! Fight back, and reclaim the liberty unions have stolen from you. You need to be responsible to, and for yourself.

>shepd: Just that line about a computer programmer not needing a union. I think what you're really saying is that jobs themselves are less dangerous, which is a delusion of the "information age." There are still factory jobs, and there are still people working with dangerous chemicals. There are even coal miners.

These people, if harmed on the job, can expect millions of dollars compensation. If they can prove intentional negligence, perhaps a billion dollars.

Which do you think is more incentive? Having to move your store/hire scabs, or losing a billion dollars?

We already have laws in place to protect people from being purposely injured. We don't need union hacks with no real law experience defending us.

Defend yourself -- nobody else is going to put the zeal in to it you, (and possibly your lawyer), would.
posted by shepd at 3:33 PM on May 3, 2003


Where do you think those worker protection laws came from? Unions, and more importantly workers, fought for those laws. Saying the class war is over is no less naive than saying racism is over. Especially now, with these "neoconservatives" in power, ready to repeal every advance made in the fights for civil liberties and worker protection.

There is at least one factory near me that pays Mexicans less than minimum wage. These people don't even speak English, much less know a thing about their rights. And that is just one glaring example.

More commonplace is the situation where conditions are unsafe, and you can't work if you don't put yourself in danger. I don't know about you, but I'd rather have both arms than any amount of money from a lawsuit. As if "big money lawsuits" were any more than a fantasy in the first place.

And this insanity about the minimum wage -- where the hell did that even come from? Do you honestly believe that people should be working for $4.50? Should the unskilled labor that operates your local McDonald's be making $4.50/hour, while the owners bring in thousands a day?

Even responding to this is difficult, because the first words that came to mind were, "Take your conservative computer programming ass..." You are obviously not a person who thinks about these things, or believes he has to.
posted by son_of_minya at 5:04 PM on May 3, 2003


>Where do you think those worker protection laws came from? Unions, and more importantly workers, fought for those laws.

That's why I called them an anachronism. They are an anachronism of the industrial revolution. They've served their purpose, and aren't required any more. If they ever are needed again, it won't be a problem for them to exist as long as nobody puts an iron fist on the laws.

Right now they aren't needed (IMHO), and the current laws show positively no need for union Preventative Maintenance.

>Saying the class war is over is no less naive than saying racism is over. Especially now, with these "neoconservatives" in power, ready to repeal every advance made in the fights for civil liberties and worker protection.

And who put them in power?

The people. The people have voiced their opinions, be it a small majority. For once Bush is paying attention to his homeland, and it's about time.

>And this insanity about the minimum wage -- where the hell did that even come from?

Oh, it just happens to be one of the big things unions have on their political agendas, that's all. One of the many political agendas I was forced to pay for.

>Do you honestly believe that people should be working for $4.50?

People should work for whatever they will take, and whatever they can get.

If you are so unskilled that $4.50 is the best you can make per hour, better to make $4.50 and improve your skills than sit on your duff on a welfare life sentence. Because that's the result -- companies will chop jobs rather than pay people more than they are worth. And they should.

>Should the unskilled labor that operates your local McDonald's be making $4.50/hour, while the owners bring in thousands a day?

That's coming MIGHTY close to communism, there. A resounding YES is my answer. BTW: I've also been under the thumb of communist agendas at work. We weren't allowed to keep our jobs without proving we "needed" them. That's total BULLSHIT, and it's the type of leftist agenda that shakes the very core of my being.

>Even responding to this is difficult, because the first words that came to mind were, "Take your conservative computer programming ass..." You are obviously not a person who thinks about these things, or believes he has to.

Son of minya, calm down. Use your voice and vote to change things if you like. I use mine.

I understand you even less than you understand me. You really seem to be treading awful close to the communist "From Each According to His Abilities, To Each According to His Needs" mantra; it worries me, considering what hell communism has brought contries participating in it.

Free markets have fostered a happy, healthy, educated society in virtually everywhere that has them. American (and Canadian) society can only benefit from more liberty and freedom.
posted by shepd at 7:13 PM on May 3, 2003


Here's a clue, free of charge: shepd has happily ignored reality and flat out lied when reality undermines his positions. Keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to allocate your time to engaging in conversation with him.
posted by NortonDC at 9:23 AM on May 4, 2003


I own a store that brings in a rather decent amount of profit. I need someone to clean the floors, I am open for 16 hours a day.

Under fair labour laws I would hire two people to cover half the hours each, and pay them at least minimum wage.

In shepd's universe, you would find two people, and get them to undercut each other's wage demands on one job that would take 16 hours. And he calls this situation less limiting on workers' rights. Bizzaro world? No, as he points out, this type of bullshit logic (or rather, a glossed-over, bravado-filled version) is what got Bush elected. And it's truly awful.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:46 PM on May 4, 2003


>shepd has happily ignored reality and flat out lied when reality undermines his positions. Keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to allocate your time to engaging in conversation with him.

Interesting, NortonDC. Do you have anything to back up this libel with, or do you want to be listed in my user page as an insane person who constantly tries to demean my character for no apparent reason?

I give you tonite to decide if you have any credibility whatsoever. I'll check back here 6:00 pm, EDT, tomorrow.

I expect either concrete evidences supporting your position, or an apology forthwith. Either will do.

>And he calls this situation less limiting on workers' rights. Bizzaro world? No, as he points out, this type of bullshit logic (or rather, a glossed-over, bravado-filled version) is what got Bush elected. And it's truly awful.

If you think that bidding is bizzare, then perhaps you're just not ready for the free market.

You really confuse me, and I really haven't a clue where your coming from, except it really seems to be from left-field.

Free market economics are what brought you the lifestyle you have today. If you don't like them, you could live in Cuba, and enjoy a lifestyle where the free market is spotty, at best.

It is unfortunate so few people here appreciate what free market economics have provided for them.
posted by shepd at 3:24 PM on May 4, 2003


Actually, it was a balance between the free-market and workers' rights, finally coming together in the 1950's. Unless you think 19th century Manchester factory workers were living a free-market dream.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:05 PM on May 4, 2003


shepd: Your problem is that you don't seem to distinguish between "free markets" and mercantilism, cronyism, fascism, etc.

You also don't seem to realize that the vast majority of employment is unskilled, or semi-skilled at best. Except in a few specialized fields, employers really do not care about "skill." For example, I type 85+ wpm and can't get a job typing. Not because I can't type, but because typing is not considered when hiring people to type. I couldn't get a job as a typist here anyway, because these jobs are handled by temp agencies.

This aversion to worker protection, based on some perceived handicap you'll face is also irrational. There are always ways to work 80 hours a week without overtime, if you really want to. Just take jobs on a contract basis, as an independent contractor. Meanwhile, let people work without having to get screwed.

I read Ayn Rand, too, and she was a smart woman, but she was also insane. It infuriates me when people drop some quote from a book I read in high school like it's friggin' gospel.
posted by son_of_minya at 5:00 PM on May 4, 2003


>I couldn't get a job as a typist here anyway, because these jobs are handled by temp agencies.

See, this is what I'm talking about. You certainly could get a typing job at exactly the agency you mentioned. You've limited yourself and what you can do. Perhaps you did it for some form of advantage, which is fine, but you can't blame the world for your decisions.

>shepd: Your problem is that you don't seem to distinguish between "free markets" and mercantilism, cronyism, fascism, etc.

Mercantilism has nothing to do with a free economy at all. In fact, it is a result of a bad mix of socialistic restrictions and free trade.

Check the quote:

1: an economic system (Europe in 18th C) to increase a nation's wealth by government regulation of all of the nation's commercial interests

Cronyism has no place in a capitalistic world. Anyone supporting cronyism for very long will quickly be eaten alive by competitors from such bad decisions.

Fascism is normally the result of communism, as communism requires iron fist control of the population.

A quote (highlighted):

A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

In a capitalistic world, there are no such controls. Therefore fascism cannot result.

Actually, though, you did miss the one major thing that can be a result of an unregulated economy, and this does happen in the few unregulated economies there are in the US (for example, the illegal drug trade). That's cartels and collusion.

I'm not educated enough in this topic to discuss what one can do about that, but it IS the major downfall of capitalism.

>There are always ways to work 80 hours a week without overtime, if you really want to. Just take jobs on a contract basis, as an independent contractor. Meanwhile, let people work without having to get screwed.

Oh great, you would have me limit my working options, and my ability to set up a proper permanent contract with a company just so that you don't get "screwed"?

>It infuriates me when people drop some quote from a book I read in high school like it's friggin' gospel.

Actually, to be honest, I haven't read an Ayn Rand book yet. People seem to think I should, and I tend to agree.

Why, did I come to the same conclusions as her? I'd love to have an institute in my honour one day.

>Actually, it was a balance between the free-market and workers' rights, finally coming together in the 1950's. Unless you think 19th century Manchester factory workers were living a free-market dream.

I think they made a decision driven by the fact the country was still developing and hardship was the norm anywhere in the world at the time, due to a lack of technology, driven by a lack of freedom. It didn't matter which job you took, unless you were part of the dictatorship (monarchy). If the monarchy hadn't existed, conditions in England would have improved much faster, and perhaps England would BE today's world superpower. England still could be if the commoners would ask the monarchy for to return the ill-gotten goods.
posted by shepd at 11:45 PM on May 4, 2003


OK that has exactly zero to do with how allowing unlimited abuse of workers is somehow a good thing. Per for the course for shepd's performance in this thread, it would appear.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:56 PM on May 4, 2003


Therefore fascism cannot result.

This made me laugh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:28 AM on May 5, 2003


shepd:

I can't think of any comment I could make to you that would not illicit a response. I have a real feeling that if we were in person, I would at some point have to either walk away or wring your neck. It's not healthy for me to acknowledge you anymore. Just want to go down on the record as saying you're an idiot. That's all.
posted by son_of_minya at 11:59 AM on May 5, 2003


>Just want to go down on the record as saying you're an idiot.

Are you out of points?

I can't imagine you're tired, as you've slept on this.

Feel free to think as you will, son_of_minya. I really don't care if a random person or two on the internet doesn't like me.

>This made me laugh.

Why, stavros?

Do you disagree with the definition?
posted by shepd at 3:20 PM on May 5, 2003


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