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Alabama Congresswoman Roby Resurrects Workplace Fairness Legislation

While Barack Obama clearly won the majority of votes from women in America, he obviously has no concept of what is important to most women in America: the family. Alabama Second District Representative Martha Roby authored the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, also known as H.R. 1406. The sophomore congresswoman revived a bill that would give workers flexibility and choice when time off is necessary. The House passed this bill on May 9, 2013 and it has been referred to Senate committee. Will the Senate consider this legislation? Will the big labor union lobbyists put a stop on this amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938? See full text of H.R. 1406 here.

This bill makes it legal for private employers to offer workers the option of putting in extra hours and, rather than getting paid for it that week, bank the hours to take paid time off later – providing it doesn’t cause undue stress to the work schedule – without having to use up their vacation days. Currently companies are prohibited from offering this option because of provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

This bill creates another option for the families stressed with balancing work, family and quality time, as well as caring for sick children or elderly parents.  And, it offers employers an opportunity to be more flexible in how they can work with their employees.  Addressing this legislation, Roby made the following remarks (see video here):

While we may not be able to legislate another hour into the day, we can help working Americans better balance life’s demands by offering more flexibility for time away from work.. What this bill doesn’t do is change the 40-hour work week or how overtime pay is calculated. The same protections that have been a part of labor law for decades remain, and we’ve added additional protections against coercion or unfair treatment. This bill also doesn’t add government regulation to the workplace – we have enough red tape as is…A more flexible workplace isn’t a new concept. In fact, many employees in the public sector enjoy this benefit right now. That’s because in 1985 Congress passed a law allowing local and state governments to offer their employees the option of comp time. (Roby’s full comments can be read at Investor’s Business Daily).

The National Partnership for Women & Families opposes the measure. Judith L. Lichtman, the organization’s senior advisor, testified against the bill before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, saying, “it would leave workers with neither pay nor time” and “magnifies the power imbalance between employer and employee.” She argued that H.R. 1406 “offers a false, flawed choice that would make times even tougher for workers and their families.”  Since the legislation gives workers more power over their time and what form of “pay” they prefer– either in monetary ways or in compensation time– the argument Lichtman makes is weak.

The AFL-CIO is vehemently opposed to the legislation as well (See AFL-CIO commentary.)  The more an employee works, the more money the employee earns. This means more money for a union’s treasury. It is as simple as that. We’ve seen ugly when unions showed their “caring,” “compassion” and “fairness” during demonstrations at the statehouse in Wisconsin.

Lea Sylvester

Lea Sylvester is a graduate of The University of Alabama. She holds a BBA in Journalism as well as Business Administration and Finance. Her work has appeared in many print publications over the years. She is an award-winning photographer as well. Her focus is reporting and writing with integrity and holding high standards for her news-related pieces, especially. Ms. Sylvester understands that the best source for non-biased news today is via the Internet. She feels those who provide information should be cognizant of the responsibility for excellence and accountability. She is the mother of two daughters and a son.

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Categories: Labor / Unions, News, Opinion, Policy, Regulation
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