January 8, 2004
Bush Advising Employers How to Cheat Low Wage Workers Out of Earned Pay
Working families are under attack by the Bush Administration yet again. Throughout his term, George W. Bush has consistently attacked workers by allowing federal contracts to go to companies that broke labor laws, easing enforcement of workplace laws, and proposing changes in overtime rules to drop 8 million workers from overtime eligibility – his latest attack on working America. And for those left, Bush is telling employers how to cut overtime even further.
For almost a year, Bush claimed his overtime proposals would result in 1.3 million new workers eligible to receive overtime pay. But with the date fast approaching when the new rules are expected to be issued, the Administration is undermining its own proposal by advising employers how to avoid it.
Buried in the proposed new regulations are suggestions for how companies can avoid overtime by “”payroll adjustments”” such as cutting base worker salaries so the additional overtime payments would bring their total pay to their old salaries, or raising salaries just to the $22,100 threshold so the workers are not overtime-eligible.
Doug Dority, UFCW International President, accused Bush of using the overtime proposals to “”feed the greed of corporate America”” and said the proposal would result in the “”largest, single pay cut for workers in history.”” Bush used the 1.3 million low-income workers as justification for forcing pay cuts on over 8 million workers whose jobs will be reclassified, making them ineligible for overtime.
The Department of Labor advice means employers are cutting pay or cutting hours.
Over 50,000 UFCW members working in retail, food processing, health care and manufacturing will suddenly be exempt from overtime if the final rule is passed in March. In a statement before a hearing on the proposed rule changes on overtime pay eligibility, Dority said, “”While these are skilled and valuable workers, they do not have the income level or the personal control of their work to equate them for overtime pay eligibility with a supermarket executive or a medical doctor.””
By advocating pay cuts and reclassifying workers the Bush administration cheats low- wage workers out of earned pay. “”All of them would be surprised to find that they are now ‘executives’ or ‘professionals,’ and all of them would be outraged to find out that their newly ordained status comes with a pay cut,”” said Dority.