Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison slammed the passage of a bill Wednesday that offers private-sector workers the choice of paid time off instead of overtime pay.
Supporters say the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 is a family-friendly bill that would help parents spend time with their children, adult sons and daughters spend time caring for elderly parents and workers of all ages to pursue the activities they want to pursue.
But Ellison countered that it removes vital protections for working families and hurts those struggling to get by during the recession. The Democratic congressman released the following statement with fellow Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ):
H.R. 1406, which eliminates the right to overtime pay for overtime hours worked, is a direct assault on one of the most important protections American workers still have. Destroying common-sense labor laws may help big business and campaign donors, but it hurts the millions of working Americans who have been getting by on less and less since the Great Recession.
The forty-hour work week was one of the most consequential and hard-fought victories for working people in our nation’s history. Working Americans who earn overtime pay should get it when they earn it. Employers and employees have agreed on this for decades. The bill passed by House Republicans today undermines this basic agreement.
The gap between the richest Americans and the rest of us has been widening for years. In the last three decades, average incomes for the top 1 percent went up 277 percent, while average incomes for middle class families only rose by 35 percent. This bill lowers workers’ wages by taking away their hard earned overtime.
This will hurt our economic recovery and make Americans’ lives harder. It’s time for Congress to stop wasting time and invest in putting the American people back to work. We should be increasing worker pay, not taking it away.
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