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Public Statements

Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert my statement into the Record opposing the GOP's vile Mother's Day gift--more work and less pay for working moms. Happy Mother's Day.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from California?

There was no objection.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Connecticut's time will be charged.

Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 1406. This bill should be known as the ``More Work Less Pay Act.''

Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938 to encourage a 40-hour workweek. FLSA also ensured that hourly workers would be fairly compensated for working over 40 hours a week. 75 years later, we are now debating a bill that will, in effect, eliminate overtime pay for millions of hourly workers.

Last year, nearly 60 percent of the workforce in this country aged 16 and over, were paid an hourly wage. This amounts to 75.3 million people in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Further, the Bureau found that 3.6 million of these workers earn wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. I represent the 43rd congressional district of California. In my home state, the minimum wage is 8.00 an hour. The impact of an $8.00 minimum wage is clear. We have one of the lowest percentages of workers who are earning at or below the federal minimum wage. There are several states that cannot say the same. Yet, like in all states, Californian's who earn overtime still rely upon that extra income.

The legislation before us today needlessly targets millions of workers. These workers have come to rely on their overtime to make ends meet. We are not talking about millionaires but everyday hard working men and women. They utilize their added income to pay their rent and mortgages. They are using their overtime to feed their families and clothe their children. Hourly workers in this country are working overtime to pay for gas for their cars or pay their bus fare to get to work.

H.R. 1406 provides absolutely no legitimate incentive for employers to give their employees time off. Under this bill, an employer could defer paying overtime for up to a year. This would, in effect, provide an employer with an interest free loan.

Under this ``More Work Less Pay'' bill workers are not guaranteed compensatory time, commonly known as ``comp'' time. An employer retains the right to refuse to grant comp time. Under current law, workers are required to receive their overtime pay in their very next check.

If an employer fails to pay overtime to their employee then the employee has a right to sue his or her employer. In 2011, the Labor Department recovered $225 million in back wages for employees. In that same year, there were 7,006 wage and hour suits filed in federal court. The numbers of employees suing their employers for back wages has steadily increased.

Today, thousands of workers are currently fighting to ensure they are receiving their earned income. This is not the time to add into the fray, ``comp'' time flexibility and overtime pay cuts. If this bill did as it claimed and provided hourly workers with flexibility then there would be thousands of workers marching to D.C. championing this bill, instead nearly 200 labor unions and women's organizations oppose this measure.

I believe we can all agree that working families do need flexibility. They need the flexibility that their extra earned income can afford them.

The Jobs Report released last Friday reflected that our economy added 165,000 new jobs in the month of April. Instead of focusing on legislation to create additional jobs, boost our economy, and increase the earning potential of workers in the United States. Republican leadership has chosen instead to focus on legislation that cuts the pay of working families.

A pay cut called flexibility is still a pay cut.

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