Iraq War Hides Attack on Overtime Pay

April 9, 2003

Very quietly, President Bush and Congressional Republicans have launched a renewed attack on overtime pay and paid time-off. Legislation is moving through the U.S. House of Representatives (HR.1119) and Senate (S.319) that would slash the wages and working conditions of tens of millions of working people. The legislation would end the current guarantee of time-and-a-half pay after 40 hours in one week, and provide employers with the ability to force workers to “earn” their vacation, sick, and personal time by working overtime and using the new “comp-time” leave. The House version of the bill has already passed one early committee vote, and the Republican leadership is pushing for a full House vote “in time for Mother’s Day.”

The current attack on overtime pay and paid time-off comes as an important payback to the business interests that bankroll the Republican Party. Corporate lobbyists are also hoping to win the support of some business-friendly Democrats. Similar legislation was defeated - just barely - several times during the 1990’s. The business authors of the bills have also taken great pains to create the impression that union members would not be impacted by the passage of such changes, hardly the case. While current union contracts that contain language specifying overtime pay and paid leave will remain in-force for their duration, employers will demand in future negotiations that these provisions be abandoned for the “comp-time” hoax.

All UE members are urged to communicate their outrage and opposition to these bills with your lawmakers. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202)224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative or either of your two Senators. For more information on your lawmakers, including regional office contact info and e-mail addresses, visit: and Send letters to: Representative_______ U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515 and Senator_______ U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510

Contact your lawmakers today!