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Eric Cantor will propose Federal Law that Ends Overtime Pay for hourly workers

     In Eric Cantor's February 2013 speech, he said he wanted to propose Federal Law that would end overtime pay for hourly workers.  Currently, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, mandates that certain workers get paid "time + 1/2" for overtime work.  Eric Cantor wants to eliminate that law.  Because -- ya know -- workers not getting paid for overtime hours worked out so good for workers before FDR enacted that Law.

     Eric Cantor's "end of overtime pay for workers" that he talked about in his February speech was overshadowed, in part, by the public whining Cantor did bitching that 'Obama gave his speech at the same time as me ... wah, wah, wah.'

     In this week's New Yorker Magazine, Ryan Lizza wrote an excellent article titled: "Can Eric Cantor, the Republican Majority Leader, redeem his party and himself?" in which Lizza reminded readers that Eric Cantor wants to end the Federal law that mandates certain workers get paid overtime for the extra hours they labor.

From the New Yorker Magazine: (page 12)

Can Eric Cantor, the Republican Majority Leader, redeem his party and himself? (page 13)

Cantor spoke about school choice, tax reform, expanding visas. After the speech, he rode back to the Capitol and met privately with House Republicans to discuss one of the policies he had emphasized: a policy that would allow workers to convert overtime compensation into time off. “I gave a talk today about helping people and about finally focussing on legislation that has understandable benefits right away,” Cantor said. He explained that it would help parents who wanted to go on a field trip or attend a teacher conference. “What I want to see is how we can communicate this, communicate the benefit. How are we going to build a coalition and get it done?

First, the Republicans tried to do this very same thing in 2003 in a House Bill: HR 1119 "Family Time Flexibility Act" (isn't that a cute title for a bill that will end overtime pay for hourly working moms and dads)

     In 2003, when the Republicans tried to end the requirement that hourly workers get paid overtime, they tried to sell it in good-old fashioned GOP Propaganda Minster: Frank Luntz terms.  They used words like "Family Flex time" ... and ... "work longer hours so you can have half a day with your family, maybe"

     Cantor's goal in allowing the interview with the New Yorker Magazine, was to re-market the GOP draconian policies.

    Since the 2012 elections, the Republicans have been divided between those who believe their policies are the problem and those who believe they just need better marketing—between those who believe they need to make better pizza and those who think they just need a more attractive box. Cantor, who is known among his colleagues as someone with strategic intelligence and a knack for political positioning, argues that it’s the box.

Cantor was happy to make himself available for several long interviews. He persistently struck a diplomatic note and mentioned again and again how much he looked forward to working with Obama, a position that he said he’s been articulating for a long time.

“Why isn’t that your reputation, then?” I asked.

“I have to ask you that. Maybe you can make it so!

    No, Eric, it is not the "box" -- it is the policies.

    The article reminded the readers about the time in December when Cantor, Boehner and the House GOP tried, but failed, to pass more spending cuts.  As a reminder, Cantor thought he had the votes to pass a Bill requiring more spending cuts but he did not and Boehner and Cantor ended up with egg on their face.  Cantor was especially pissed off because the failure to pass the GOP Bill meant Cantor would not be able to go on his "family vacation"

House Republicans had to decide what to do with it. If Cantor had had his way, he would have been in Guadeloupe. “My whole family went on a cruise, and I couldn’t go,he told me, glumly; he had to stay in Washington to deal with the fiscal-cliff crisis. His wife, Diana, said, “This was our twenty-third anniversary, and he missed my fiftieth-birthday cruise also.” 

[wah, wah, wah]

    Isn't that sad.  Poor Eric Cantor could not go on his family vacation because he screwed up in doing his job so he had to stay to clean up the mess he and his GOP brethren made.

.... Meanwhile, Eric Cantor wants to pass a Federal Law to eliminate overtime pay but not overtime labor. Meaning, naturally, that the law Eric Cantor wants to propose will mean that millions of hourly workers in America would a) not be able to afford their family vacation, and b) might have to work overtime during a scheduled family vacation all without extra pay.

     Since Eric Cantor has not given anyone in the media a copy of his proposed Bill, all we can do is look back at the 2003 Republican Bill that would end the Federal Law requiring workers get actual money in exchange for extra hours worked.

     One of the many problems with the 2003 Bill was that the Bill did not actually "require" employers to give their hourly workers the "family flex time" when the worker wanted to use it:

Requires the employer to permit use of comp-time accrued under such an option program within a reasonable time after the employee's request if such use does not unduly disrupt the employer's operations.
    Also, Under H.R. 1119, employees who work 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.

     Therefore, without receiving any interest or security, the employees, in essence, give their overtime pay to the employer in the hopes of getting it back some time later as paid time off.

      Hourly worker's overtime pay was put at risk of loss in the event of business failure and closure, bankruptcy, or fraud.  In short, H.R.1119 was nothing more than a scheme to allow employers to avoid paying for overtime, a scheme that would result in longer hours, lower incomes, and less predictable workweeks for hourly workers.

    From Eric Cantor's February speech, his words sounded a lot like the "marketing" used in 2003 where the GOP tried to pass off the notion that not getting actual money paid for overtime worked was a great thing because if workers work overtime they'll have more time to spend with their family.

Eric Cantor Speech dated February, 2013
     "Federal laws dating back to the 1930s make it harder for parents who hold hourly jobs to balance the demands of work and home. An hourly employee cannot convert previous overtime into future comp-time or flex-time. In 1985, Congress passed a law that gave state and municipal employees this flexibility, but today still denies that same privilege to the entire private sector. That’s not right.

     "There’s a police officer at home in my district, her name is Vicki. She is working a tough job, with long hours, while raising her children. Her life is made a little easier because as a local government employee, she is permitted to work some extra hours and save it up for a sick day or a school event.

     "Imagine if we simply chose to give all employees and employers this option. A working mom could work overtime this month and use it as time off next month without having to worry about whether she’ll be able to take home enough money to pay the rent. This is the kind of common sense legislation that should be non-controversial and moves us in the right direction to help make life work for families."

    Cantor seems very giddy and excited that Vicki gets to work overtime in order to 'save it up for a sick day' ...

     Two things wrong with Cantor's last paragraph, 1) the mom would feel a lot better about her income if she were PAID OVERTIME for all the extra hours she worked; and 2) the 2003 GOP Bill did not guarantee the worker would get time off when the worker wanted it.

      In Cantor's defense, I don't know if Cantor's Bill will be different from the 2003 Bill whereby the time off of the worker asked for was restricted by the employer to a degree that the worker might not get their time off until 12 months after they worked extra hours ... and even after 12 months there was no guarantee the worker would get their requested time off.

     However, in Cantor's speech, he did not say Vicky got to use her extra hours worked as time off with pay the next month, Cantor said she had to work extra hours and, "save it up for a sick day or a school event."   Therefore, it is likely that Cantor's Bill could very much look like the 2003 Republican Bill.

     After his speech in February, he met privately with Republicans (as described above the orange squiggle) where Cantor asked if they were finished drafting the 'end overtime pay for hourly worker's' proposal:

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida, excused herself halfway through the session and left; the meeting seemed to have been convened mostly for the edification of the one reporter in the room. Cantor asked Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking Republican leader, if the legislation was ready yet. “We’re still kind of in the exploratory stage, but we are looking at some child-care bills, and not quite ready at this point to bring them forward,” she said. “But we’re working on it."

“O.K., I get it,” Cantor said. “There’s always . . .” His voice trailed off. “O.K., anybody else have anything?” The room went silent. “All right, thank you. Thank you very much.”

It's the GOP Policies, not the box.

     The article went on to explain the additional massive cuts the Republicans were demanding in exchange for the 'debt ceiling' vote.  

Cantor explained why he argued at the retreat against using the debt ceiling as political leverage. He had been hearing from donors on Wall Street and in the business community about the potential impact on the markets.

The legislation merely delayed the fight over the debt ceiling until mid-May. In its place, Cantor and the House Republicans had engineered the battle over the sequester, which would begin on March 1st. Cantor viewed the various fiscal deadlines as what his aides referred to as hot stoves. “One is particularly hot,” Steve Stombres, Cantor’s chief of staff, said. “You touch the debt limit and you go into default, and that could be irreparable damage to our economy. But we felt like we could handle the heat of the sequester. We just needed to get them sequenced correctly and use that as an opportunity. The sequester was in place, and the members don’t want to give up that money, those cuts.

hmmm ... was that a slip of the tongue when Cantor's aid said "the members don’t want to give up that money" ... was he referring to the money from the Wall Street donors who told Cantor not to f'ck with the Debt Ceiling vote?  

    In the article, Eric Cantor insists that the American voters don't reject Republican draconian policies that are geared to benefit the ultra-wealthy - Cantor thinks the American voters agree with Republicans:

* that ultra-wealthy people should get workers to work overtime with no extra pay and

* that the ultra-wealthy should be able to hide their income overseas to avoid paying taxes that would otherwise pay for things like our debt on two wars and

* that Americans do want cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaide, Food Stamps, education, infrastructure spending ... all so the ultra-wealthy can pay anywhere from 0%-14% income tax rate.

     Eric Cantor believes that all the Republicans need to do is market those policies, that would roll America back to the era of the failed "Gilded Age" in a prettier box.  

UPDATE:  

The 1985 Law that Cantor referenced in his February 2013 speech, talks about is the 1985 Amendment to the FLSA 1938 Act which says state and local government employers to compensate their worker's overtime hours with paid time away from work in lieu of overtime pay. There is a cap on the amount of overtime hours a state/city worker must work before they are even allowed to possibly get paid overtime in money form: 150 hours for non-emergency workers and 500 hours for emergency workers such as the police.

The 1985 amendments were enacted to protect state and local governments from the financial burden that the requirement to provide overtime pay would have posed.  

Therefore, since the 1985 law is cited in Cantor's speech, there is no reason to think that any legislation coming from Cantor would allow the worker to have an option of getting paid overtime or taking time off.  In fact, we have every reason to think that Cantor's legislation would allow employers to deny worker's the option, just like the 1985 law denies state worker's the option.

It would appear, that Cantor is wanting to enact his 'no overtime pay for hourly workers' in the private sector Bill so as to protect private sector from the financial burden that the requirement to provide overtime pay poses.  

In short, as the poster "Inland" put it:
"It's not meant to be an expansion of choice for employees.  It's meant to end hours and wage legislation from the New Deal."