Policy: Labor

FRC: Obama’s opposition to comp time bill shows ‘let them eat cake’ attitude

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger,Barack Obama,Labor

President Obama’s opposition to a bill that would let employees choose comp time instead of overtime pay demonstrates a “let them eat cake” attitude toward working families, the Family Research Council said Tuesday.

“[The bill] gives more power to private employers and private employees, and that’s never a bad thing,” Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for FRC, told The Washington Examiner. “I think the Democrats are wrong to oppose it.”

The Working Families Flexibility Act goes to the House floor for debate Tuesday and is scheduled for a vote Wednesday. White House officials threatened on Monday to veto the bill if it passes, saying in an email the president’s senior advisers would urge a veto in its present form.

The administration said the bill undermines the right to overtime pay by giving employers an incentive to force employees to take time off instead of monetary compensation. President Obama supports a higher minimum wage and state paid leave programs instead of comp time legislation, according to the White House email.

Government employees, though, already have the option to choose comp time instead of overtime pay, making the administration’s opposition look far-fetched, McClusky said. Union opposition is one of the real drivers against the bill, he said.

The AFL-CIO “vehemently” opposes the bill, calling it an “empty promise” in an open letter to House members.

“The Working Families Flexibility Act however would encourage employers to demand longer hours because it would allow employers to receive the benefits of overtime work at no additional cost,” they wrote. The administration and unions’ hostility to the bill is based on outdated versions of the legislation, said a spokesman for Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala.

“Unfortunately that is going along with the same tired talking points from opposition to this bill that quite frankly have not been updated since the bill itself has been updated,” he told the Examiner.

Those talking points no longer apply to the bill, which includes protection for employees’ rights to both overtime pay and comp time, he said.

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