Billed by its sponsors as “The Working Families Flexibility Act” and characterized by opponents as “The Bosses Flexibility Act,” H.R. 1406 narrowly passed the majority-Republican U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday by a vote of 223 to 204.
The bill, technically an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, a New Deal measure, is given no chance of passage in the Senate, and it is also opposed by President Obama, who has indicated he would veto it if need be, and by organized labor.
Its effect, according to its GOP sponsors, is to give employees the option to take time off from their jobs at a later date as an alternative to receiving overtime pay. The Democrats who oppose the bill say that it would give employers the right to decide when or if this ‘comp” time is actually allotted.
Here is 9th District U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) called Wednesday “one of the saddest days the House of Representatives has probably ever seen” expressed his opposition to H.R. 1406 on the House floor:
In a news release, Cohen made the following points against the bill:
What this misnamed bill really means is more work and less pay for workers, not flexibility:
o Workers will not get paid for hours that exceed 40 hours per week. That pay will instead go into an employer-controlled pot to be paid later.
o An employer can refuse to allow a worker to take time off to deal with a family member or attend a parent-teacher conference. This is not real flexibility for workers.
o Employers could schedule excessive overtime hours and only offer overtime work to workers who agree to take comp time instead of overtime wages.
o Since unused comp time will not be paid to workers until the end of the year, this amounts to an interest-free loan out of workers’ pockets to the employer.