For many years, business and government have been attempting to move away from the eight-hour day by establishing a ten hour, four-day workweek, or other alternative work schedules, with no overtime premium pay after eight hours.
While workers in some workplaces may prefer alternative schedules, locals should make sure to build protections against abuse into their contracts. Care must be taken to ensure workers’ days off are consecutive. Longer work days mean a worker who is absent will receive a larger dock in pay. Improvements to paid leave, such as vacation and holidays may require a bigger fight because they cost the company more. Numerous studies have shown longer work days result in more accidents and injuries.
Some employers are promoting the ten-hour day for their own benefit, not for the benefit of the workers. They use it as a way to avoid paying overtime on Saturday or Sunday, turning these days into a shifting part of the new regular work week. Small and economically marginal employers save on energy costs by keeping their shop shuttered an extra day but do not share this savings with workers.
The labor movement is the reason the eight-hour day was established. Our union has long supported further shortening the workday and workweek. We should not move backwards and bargain away one of our most fundamental victories.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 76th UE CONVENTION:
- Reaffirms our longstanding policy of overtime pay for any hours after eight and our goal of reducing the work week. We call on the labor movement to pursue a shorter work week with no loss in pay;
- Calls on Congress and state legislatures to improve existing overtime laws and regulations, provide for their vigorous enforcement, and oppose employer-imposed “comp time” and “flex time” schemes;
- Encourage all shops to incorporate into their contract language requiring an eight-hour day with overtime after eight hours;
- Encourage all shops to ensure overtime premiums are paid for Saturday and Sunday work, to ensure a consecutive weekend and eliminate the worst exploitation of alternative work schedules.