Here they go again. House Republicans are trying yet again to repackage their agenda to make it appealing to working women and their families. From USA Today:
House Republicans are targeting popular “mommy blog” websites in a digital ad campaign beginning Tuesday as part of an ongoing effort to repair the GOP’s image with certain voting blocs — in this case swing female voters — who have sided decisively with Democrats in recent elections…
GOP leaders have faced some embarrassing setbacks in the base-broadening effort.
For example, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the second most senior Republican in the House garnered national headlines last month after he used a racial slur during a radio interview in describing his memories of Latinos from his youth.
Last week, Republican leadership scuttled a planned vote on a bill aimed at providing sick Americans with health care because it didn’t have enough GOP support to pass.
After the spring recess, House GOP leaders are expected to put their latest bill harming middle class families on the floor under the guise of giving workers flexibility with comp time and overtime. Not surprisingly, the bill actually does the opposite.
“This bill has nothing to do with promoting workplace flexibility,” [Democratic Congressman Joe] Courtney said. “It is about not paying overtime. It is about saying to hourly workers already struggling to make ends meet–if you need time off to care for a sick child or attend a school concert, you need to work extra hours, forgo the earned overtime pay, and then, as long as it is not disruptive to your employer, you may get some time off.”
In addition, Courtney said, “nothing in this bill requires that the worker has access to time-off when she really needs it.”
…This bill presents comp time as optional, but what’s to keep an employer eager to save money on overtime costs from pressuring employees to accept comp time, particularly when many workers are clinging to their jobs for dear life?
And what happens if your employer tries to deny you the hours you have accrued? The bill technically prohibits that, but for those of us living in an imperfect world, you know it’s going to happen.
For those who think I’m being too cynical about employers playing fast and loose with hourly wage laws, consider this: I pulled data from the Department of Labor and found that companies in Rep. Roby’s home state of Alabama have, since fiscal 2007, paid more than $50 million in back wages stemming from cases in which the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rules were violated.
And that’s coming from a Labor Department that already can’t keep up with the claims.
One surefire way to tell the GOP is playing a game of smoke and mirrors with working families? Look at what the critics are saying about the bill:
Judith Lichtman, National Partnership for Women and Families:
It should be called the Employer Flexibility Act, because at every turn here, the employer gets to decide. It pretends to provide a set of options to employees. But even if they elect to take the comp time instead of wages, when they can take it is fully at the discretion of the employer. You have no ability to take that leave when you need it. The employer can decide.
Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic and Policy Research:
Touted by Republicans as a new comp time initiative that will give hourly-paid workers the flexibility to meet family responsibilities, it is neither new nor about giving these workers much needed time off to care for their families. The bill rehashes legislation Republicans passed in the House in 1997, some 16 years ago, and that they introduced again in most subsequent Congresses. Its major effect would be to hamstring workers — likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.
Linda Meric, 9to5, National Association of Working Women:
Under this proposal, the employer, not the employee, determines when earned comp time can be used. In other words, a low-wage working mother could be forced to work 50 hours one week during Spring Break when her children are off from school and in exchange for the overtime work get 10 hours off another week when they are back in school. This may be flexibility for the employer, but it would cost the employee extra money for childcare, less money in overtime earnings and less time with her family.