House passes bill that forces workers to work without pay
HR 1180 legalizes a practice that employers like Walmart have been sanctioned for in the past. AP

WASHINGTON – By a 229-197 party-line vote, the House has approved a bill, HR 1180, that will give employers the power to decide whether or not they will pay for overtime work.

The Working Families Flexibility Act “is not good for working families at all. It changes our nearly 80-year system of overtime that discourages employers from overworking us,” Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers said in his blog.

Under the bill’s provisions, employers could force workers to accept compensation time rather than pay them for work done in excess of 40 hours.

“Comp time gives employers even more opportunities to squeeze every penny of profit out of us – even if it means putting us in harm’s way. There are ways to make our workplaces more flexible and family friendly. This bill is not one of them,” Gerard continued.

“This bill is nothing more than a false promise of time off and a pay cut,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said in an address to Congress. “[it] enables employers to exert more control over employees’ wages and hours that hinders a worker’s ability to plan family time, to have flexible and stable schedules, and, yes, to make ends meet.

“Rather than helping workers earn better wages and more time off, this bill creates more power for employers to delay paying overtime wages for as long as 13 months,” she added.” For people who need to work extra hours to pay those bills, this forces them into an impossible choice between time and money with no guarantee of time off.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., told Congress “This bill takes away overtime pay and, instead, a workers gets a vague IOU for compensatory time sometime in the future, and only if the comp time does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer – whatever that means.”

In a letter to Congress opposing the bill, The National Partnership for Women and Families, along with 92 other organizations, called HR1180, “a smoke-and-mirrors bill that would offer working people a pay cut without any guaranteed flexibility or time off… It is, at best, an empty promise that would cause considerably more harm than good.”

Other signers of the letter included the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Teamsters, the Auto Workers, the Economic Policy Institute, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, both teachers unions, Jobs With Justice, the Communications Workers and the Service Employees International Union.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.