Shrub Watch
July 02, 2003
Double Whammy Against American Workers

These are pretty self-explanatory.


Bush Administration Repeals Requirement That Employers Report Strain Injuries

By Leigh Strope for the Associated Press.

Democrats Protest Changes to Overtime Rules
By Steven Greenhouse for the NY Times.


Forty-two Democratic senators and more than 100 Democratic House members urged the Bush administration yesterday to withdraw proposed regulations that they said would eliminate overtime pay for millions of workers.

The lawmakers made their plea on the final day of a 90-day comment period in which the administration received tens of thousands of criticisms of its proposals, which are the first effort to update overtime regulations since 1975.

"Our citizens are working longer hours than ever before longer than in any other industrial nation," the senators wrote to Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "At least one in five employees now has a workweek that exceeds 50 hours. Protecting the 40-hour workweek is vital to balancing work responsibilities and family needs."

...The Democratic lawmakers joined labor unions in opposing the rule changes, asserting that they would reduce take-home pay and free time for many workers.

"Millions of workers who receive time and a half for their overtime work today will be required to work longer hours for less money under the proposal," the House members wrote to Ms. Chao. "Millions more who have long depended upon overtime work to help make ends meet will face effective pay cuts."

Richard Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s secretary-treasurer, who led a protest rally yesterday at the Labor Department, said: "It's outrageous that their proposals would deny overtime pay to 8 million more workers. It's particularly outrageous for them to do this when they haven't even held a single public hearing."

Critics of the proposals have relied heavily on a study by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group, that concluded that the proposals would exempt an additional 8 million executive, administrative and professional workers from qualifying for overtime when they worked more than 40 hours a week. The institute faulted the administration's estimate that 640,000 more workers would be exempt.

The proposals would alter the criteria for determining which white-collar employees cannot receive overtime.

Under the new rules, anyone earning less than $22,100 a year would automatically qualify for overtime, while under existing rules only workers earning less than $8,060 a year automatically qualify. As a result, under existing regulations, assistant managers of fast-food restaurants who earn $18,000 a year often do not qualify for overtime because they are considered managers.


This page contains both complete articles. The one on top in the entry is actually second on this page.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/01/politics/01OVER.html

Forty-two Democratic senators and more than 100 Democratic House members urged the Bush administration yesterday to withdraw proposed regulations that they said would eliminate overtime pay for millions of workers.

The lawmakers made their plea on the final day of a 90-day comment period in which the administration received tens of thousands of criticisms of its proposals, which are the first effort to update overtime regulations since 1975.

"Our citizens are working longer hours than ever before longer than in any other industrial nation," the senators wrote to Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "At least one in five employees now has a workweek that exceeds 50 hours. Protecting the 40-hour workweek is vital to balancing work responsibilities and family needs."

When the administration proposed the rule changes in March, it called them an evenhanded effort that would exempt an additional 640,000 white-collar workers from overtime coverage while adding 1.3 million low-paid workers to the group that automatically qualifies for overtime pay.

Many business groups praised the proposals, calling them a needed effort to modernize what they said was a thicket of confusing, obsolete rules.

"On balance, the proposed regulations do a very good job bringing our workplace regulations into the 21st century," Katherine Lugar, vice president for legislative affairs at the National Retail Federation, said yesterday at a news conference.

The Democratic lawmakers joined labor unions in opposing the rule changes, asserting that they would reduce take-home pay and free time for many workers.

"Millions of workers who receive time and a half for their overtime work today will be required to work longer hours for less money under the proposal," the House members wrote to Ms. Chao. "Millions more who have long depended upon overtime work to help make ends meet will face effective pay cuts."

Richard Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s secretary-treasurer, who led a protest rally yesterday at the Labor Department, said: "It's outrageous that their proposals would deny overtime pay to 8 million more workers. It's particularly outrageous for them to do this when they haven't even held a single public hearing."

Critics of the proposals have relied heavily on a study by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group, that concluded that the proposals would exempt an additional 8 million executive, administrative and professional workers from qualifying for overtime when they worked more than 40 hours a week. The institute faulted the administration's estimate that 640,000 more workers would be exempt.

The proposals would alter the criteria for determining which white-collar employees cannot receive overtime.

Under the new rules, anyone earning less than $22,100 a year would automatically qualify for overtime, while under existing rules only workers earning less than $8,060 a year automatically qualify. As a result, under existing regulations, assistant managers of fast-food restaurants who earn $18,000 a year often do not qualify for overtime because they are considered managers.

Tammy D. McCutchen, the administrator of the wage and hour division at the Labor Department, said the lawmakers should not rely on the Economic Policy Institute study, asserting that it was flawed and misinterpreted current rules.

"A lot of the 8 million figure that the senators and congressmen are citing relies on misinformation," Ms. McCutchen said. "If you compare how executive employees become exempt today and how they will become exempt under our proposals, it will become harder for employers to exempt those employees."


Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.boston.com/dailynews/181/wash/Bush_administration_repeals_re:.shtml

Bush Administration Repeals Requirement That Employers Report Strain Injuries By Leigh Strope The Associated Press

Monday 30 June 2003

The Bush administration on Monday repealed a requirement that employers report repetitive stress injuries.

The measure had not yet taken effect, and Labor Department officials said such data would be useless in identifying causes and preventing such injuries.

Labor unions had fought for the requirement, claiming that tracking repetitive strain injuries, also known as ergonomic injuries, would help identify potentially hazardous jobs and provide a better understanding of injury rates and trends.

The move ''continues the Bush administration's head-in-the-sand approach to ergonomic injuries,'' said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

''Just because the government is not going to require employers to track these injuries and just because the government is not going to enforce a safety standard doesn't mean that workers will stop becoming ill or permanently disabled on the job,'' he said.

Employers would have been required to record ergonomic-related injuries, which include disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs, except those caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents or other similar accidents.

That requirement would have taken effect in 2001, but was delayed that year after the GOP-controlled Congress repealed regulations issued by the Clinton administration that would have required businesses to make changes to work stations and pay employees with such injuries.

Instead of legal requirements, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is issuing voluntary guidelines for certain injury-prone businesses. The reporting requirement was to take effect this year.

"OSHA concluded that an additional record keeping column would not substantially improve the national injury statistics, nor would it be of benefit to employers and workers because the column would not provide additional information useful to identifying possible causes or methods to prevent injury,'' an OSHA statement said.


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