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Public Statements

Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. SHEA-PORTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill and to offer the final amendment, which will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill will immediately proceed to final passage, as amended.

The amendment I offer today would reject this bill's attack on workers and their families. The base bill brought to the floor today effectively ends the 40-hour workweek and offers comp time in lieu of overtime pay.

The Republican bill boils down to this: more work, less pay. This continues the House Republican no jobs agenda that undermines American workers, weakens worker checkbooks, and harms the middle class. This legislation does not guarantee that workers will be able to use the time they have earned when they need it the most. Instead, the comp time earned by workers would go into a pot that would be controlled by their employer. This is not more flexibility for workers; it's less pay for workers.

Under this bill, employers could schedule excessive overtime hours and only offer overtime work to workers who agree to take comp time instead of overtime wages. An employer can refuse to allow a worker to take time off to deal with a family member or to attend a parent-teacher conference. And under this bill, if employers choose not to allow the time off, workers will get paid at the end of the year, having kindly provided their boss with an interest-free loan. And let's hope the year's worth of accounting is accurate.

So this amendment presents the House with a choice: support hardworking Americans and their families, or side with interest groups and corporate lobbyists.

This final amendment says that workers may not be denied use of earned compensation time to attend a medical appointment, care for a sick child or a family member, or for veterans to attend counseling or rehabilitation appointments for injuries suffered in combat. Finally, if you are an employer that has violated the Equal Pay Act, my amendment ensures that you can't cut workers' overtime pay also. That's just common sense.

Today, as the gap between the very wealthy and middle class Americans is widening, a pay cut is the last thing that hardworking Americans who are struggling to provide for their families need. That's why President Obama has pledged to veto this legislation, and that's why more than 160 organizations oppose it, including women's organizations, labor organizations, and civil rights organizations.

Now, I'm passionate about workers' rights because that's where I come from. I worked on the floor of a manufacturing plant to pay for college. I took all the overtime I could work, second and third shifts, and I needed that money. I remember the tough conditions in that plant. Workers were afraid to question management. Anyone who thinks this won't happen to many workers who try to get comp time when they need it is fooling themselves.

Workers need the guarantees provided in this final amendment in order to make sure they're not trading overtime pay for comp time they might never be able to use. Instead of asking employees to work more and get paid less, I urge my colleagues to adopt this amendment and protect veterans, women, and working families.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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