The big business attack on overtime pay has been temporarily put “on hold” as the efforts of hundreds of thousands of working people have stalled a final vote in the House of Representatives. The Republican House leadership withdrew the bill (HR.1119) from the Congressional calendar on June 4th, when it became obvious that the full-court lobbying push by union members and allies had prevented the possibility of passage of the legislation. While postponed, the legislation is not dead.
UE Political Action Updates
President Bush signed his tax cut bill into law on May 28th, just hours after Congress passed the bill to reduce taxes by more than $350 billion dollars. The House of Representatives passed the legislation by a 231-200 vote, followed by a razor-thin 51-50 Senate margin. It even became necessary to bring Vice President Dick Cheney out of seclusion to provide the tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate. Despite record-breaking federal and state budget deficits the tax cut bill was passed on a party-line vote with only 9 Democrats supporting it and 4 Republicans opposing it.
The Republican Congressional majority - along with the horde of Big Business lobbyists - are meeting fierce resistance in their attempts to repeal overtime pay. Working people from coast-to-coast have unleashed a barrage of phone calls, letters, and e-mails on lawmakers, demanding that they cease their attempts to gut the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by passing the so-called “comp-time” bills.
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.
As all eyes are focused on the unfolding war against Iraq, it is appropriate to pause and reflect on the past service and sacrifices of America’s veterans. But, sadly, recent Bush Administration attempts to deny Veteran’s Administration (VA) medical care to more than 160,000 aging veterans has gone largely unnoticed by veterans or the general public.
Working people all across the United States and the world continue to raise their voices against the looming Bush war in the Middle East. As the U.S. economy continues to slide - and gasoline prices rise - a growing tide of union voices are calling on President Bush to call-off his apparently imminent attack on Iraq.
As President Bush continues his single-minded push for war against Iraq, working people around the world have increasingly demonstrated their desire for a peaceful resolution to the Middle East crisis. The massive peace demonstrations that took place around the world over the weekend of February 15 and 16 were indications of the growing tide of public opinion against the Bush plan of attack. Literally millions of people declared their opposition to a military strike against Iraq; peace demonstrations were held in more than 600 cities around the world, including dozens in the United States.
President Bush delivered the annual State of the Union speech last night before a war nervous Congress, the American public, and world-wide audience. The carefully-scripted speech began with a hodgepodge review of domestic issues, but cut-to-the-chase halfway when the President all but promised a war against the oil-rich Iraqi regime.
As UE members and their families are adversely impacted by the avalanche of red budget ink at the state and local level, two recent tax policy studies by respected Washington, D.C. research organizations provide some startling facts on the situation.
The United States Senate and House of Representatives have convened the 108th Congress in Washington D.C. One of the first orders of business will likely be the extension of unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of unemployed. The benefit cut-off was due to the refusal of the Republican House leadership to extend exhausted benefits last December. The political heat on Congress to right this wrong has been intense, and passage of an extension of benefits is predicted.