FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The GOP’s Assault on Low-Paid Working Moms

Nostalgia for the 90s is apparent in the House Republicans’ latest effort to win over women voters, especially young mothers. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., a mother of two, was tapped to introduce the misleadingly titled “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.” The bill is neither new in 2013 – the very same bill was first passed in the House in 1997 – nor does it provide working families with the flexibility they need to meet their children’s needs. Echoing tactics employed in the 1990s, Republicans are attacking Democratic colleagues who do not want to join them in this trip back to the future.

Roby’s claim that her experience as a working mom is behind her support for this legislation fails to note that she, like other professionals, is not actually covered by this bill. It applies only to hourly paid workers – nurse’s aides, check-out clerks, sales women, fast food workers, warehouse workers and others who rely on the 40-hour work week to give them time to spend with their kids and on overtime pay to make ends meet on their meager wages.

The legislation would have employees work unpaid hours beyond the 40-hour workweek and accrue as much as 160 hours of “comp time.” Its major effect would likely be to increase overtime hours for those who don’t want them and reduce pay for those who do.

Workers’ agreement to take comp time rather than pay for overtime hours is supposed to be voluntary. But anyone who has ever held one of these hourly-paid jobs knows that the employer holds all the cards. Refusing an employer’s offer of comp time instead of wages may mean your hours will be cut or that you will be more vulnerable to being laid off in an economic crunch.

The low-paid working moms covered by this legislation know it is not really about giving them more flexibility to choose between comp time and overtime pay. It’s about letting their employers ask them to work more than 40 hours without having to pay them for the extra time.

Republicans are right that working parents need the flexibility to stay home with a child with a raging fever or attend a school conference with their child’s teacher. Unfortunately, this comp time bill fails to address these very real needs. Instead, the bill lets employers decide when workers get to use their comp time. An employee who needs to stay home today with a sick child can be told to take their comp time next week or even later, at a time that is more convenient for the employer.

A better alternative is to pass legislation that allows workers to earn a few paid sick days a year so they can stay home from work for a day or two when they or their children come down with the flu. This would do far more to let working parents care for their kids than the rehashed comp time bill that House Republicans are promoting.

The comp time bill may not benefit workers, but it is certainly a boon for employers. It increases their flexibility in assigning work hours and cuts their costs. A low-paid working mom earning $10 an hour who accrues 160 hours of comp time in place of overtime pay is effectively making an interest-free loan of $1,600 to her employer. That’s a lot to ask of a mother who earns about $20,000 a year. Indeed, it’s a lot to ask any hourly paid worker to lend a month’s pay to their employer.

Legislators who want to stand up for working moms will not easily be misled into thinking that this misguided bill gives working families the flexibility they so badly need.

Eileen Appelbaum is a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

This article originally appeared on Economic Intelligence.

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
January 17, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: No Woman, No Cry
Kathleen Wallace
Hijacking the Struggles of Others, Elizabeth Warren Style
Robert Hunziker
The Rumbling Methane Enigma
Frank Joyce
Will the Constitution Fail Again?
Pete Dolack
Claims that the ‘NAFTA 2’ Agreement is Better are a Macabre Joke
Andrew Levine
Biden Daze
Vijay Prashad
Not an Inch: Indian Students Stand Against the Far Right
Ramzy Baroud
Sealed Off and Forgotten: What You Should Know about Israel’s ‘Firing Zones’ in the West Bank
Norman Solomon
Not Bernie, Us. Not Warren, Us. Their Clash Underscores the Need for Grassroots Wisdom
Ted Rall
America’s Long History of Meddling in Russia
David Rosen
The Irregulators vs. FCC: the Trial Begins
Jennifer Matsui
The Krown
Joseph Natoli
Resolutions and Obstacles/2020
Sarah Anderson
War Profiteering is Real
James McFadden
The Business Party Syndicate
Ajamu Baraka
Trump Prosecutors Make Move to Ensure that Embassy Protectors are Convicted
David Swanson
CNN is Trash
Rev. William Alberts
Finally a Christian Call for Trump’s Removal
Dave Lindorff
The ERA Just Got Ratified by Virginia, the Needed 38th State!
W. T. Whitney
Mexico Takes Action on Coup in Bolivia and on CELAC
Steve Early
How General Strike Rhetoric Became a Reality in Seattle 
Jessicah Pierre
Learning From King’s Last Campaign
Mark Dickman
Saint Greta and the Dragon
Jared Bernstein - Dean Baker
Reducing the Health Care Tax
Clark T. Scott
Uniting “Progressives” Instead of Democrats
Nilofar Suhrawardy
Trump & Johnson: What a Contrast, Image-wise!
Ron Jacobs
Abusing America’s Children—Free Market Policy
George Wuerthner
Mills Are Being Closed by National Economic Trends, Not Environmental Regulations
Basav Sen
Nearly All Americans Want Off of Fossil Fuels
Mark Ashwill
Playing Geopolitical Whack-a-Mole: The Viet Nam Flag Issue Revisited
Jesse Jackson
New Hope for One of America’s Poorest Communities
Binoy Kampmark
Harry and Meghan Exit: The Royal Family Propaganda Machine
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again!
Rob Okun
A Call to Men to join Women’s March
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
We All Need to Be Tree Huggers Now
Tom Stephens
The New York Times’ Delusions of Empire
Julian Rose
Fake-Green Zero Carbon Fraud
Louis Proyect
The Best Films of 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Across the Balkans: Into Kosovo
Colin Todhunter
Gone Fishing? No Fish but Plenty of Pesticides and a Public Health Crisis
Julian Vigo
Can New Tech Replace In-Class Learning?
Gaither Stewart
The Bench: the Life of Things
Nicky Reid
Trannies with Guns: Because Enough is Enough!
James Haught
Baby Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark
David Yearsley
Brecht in Berlin
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail