FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Millions of Workers Would Lose Pay and Protections Under Minimum Wage Proposal

The minimum wage amendment proposed by Sen. Michael Enzi would harm far more workers than it helps.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that a straightforward raise of $1.10 in the minimum wage could directly benefit about 1.8 million workers. The Enzi proposal, however, is anything but straightforward. Other provisions would take away minimum wage eligibility and overtime rights, and would overrule higher state standards for workers who earn tips. Many millions of workers would stand to lose pay and protections to which current law entitles them.

WEAKENING FLSA COVERAGE: Employees of businesses with revenues of more than $500,000 and all workers who engage in interstate commerce now have important protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), such as the right to be paid a minimum wage and to receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. The Enzi amendment eliminates FLSA protections for all workers at businesses with revenues up to $1,000,000. In 1997, 6.8 million employees worked at firms with revenues of between $500,000 and $1 million. In addition, the amendment eliminates individual FLSA coverage, which protects many of the more than 8 million employees in firms with less than $500,000 of revenues.

CUTTING OVERTIME PAY: The Enzi amendment abolishes the 40-hour work week and replaces it with an 80-hour, two-week work period. Today, those who work 50 hours in one week and 30 the next receive 10 hours of time-and-a-half overtime pay. Under the amendment, such workers would no longer get overtime pay, making mandatory overtime cheaper for employers. This change encourages employers to overwork employees in busy periods and cut their hours when things are less busy, leaving workers less able to control their work hours and to balance work and family. Construction workers, for example, whose work hours often vary from week to week, will be particularly hard hit. Currently about 100 million workers are eligible to receive overtime pay.

WORKING FOR TIPS ONLY: The Enzi amendment invalidates the laws of seven states that require employers to pay the full minimum wage to tipped employees. In convoluted language, the amendment prohibits states and local governments from enforcing any state or local minimum wage law or ordinance that requires all of tipped employees’ wages to be paid in cash by the employer. Tipped employees include a wide range of workers such as taxi drivers, porters, hotel cleaning staff, and the like. Restaurant wait staff alone currently number about 2 million.

WEAKENING SAFETY & OTHER PROTECTIONS: The Enzi amendment excuses millions of employers from paying fines for violations of federal safety and health, pension, and labor regulations. First violations of “information collection requirements” – even if knowing and willful – will be excused for the more than 5 million businesses with revenues under $7 million a year. Information collection requirements include a broad class of notices and postings required in order to inform and protect employees, such as hazardous material warnings, training requirements, and information about pension and health benefit plans.

ROSS EISENBREY is policy director for the Economic Policy Institute.

 

More articles by:
April 26, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
As Trump Berates Iran, His Options are Limited
Daniel Warner
From May 1968 to May 2018: Politics and Student Strikes
Simone Chun – Kevin Martin
Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires
George Wuerthner
The Attack on Wilderness From Environmentalists
CJ Hopkins
The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists
Richard Schuberth
“MeToo” and the Liberation of Sex
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Sacred Assemblies in Baghdad
Dean Baker
Exonerating Bad Economic Policy for Trump’s Win
Vern Loomis
The 17 Gun Salute
Gary Leupp
What It Means When the U.S. President Conspicuously and Publicly Removes a Speck of Dandruff from the French President’s Lapel
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail