Magazine article The American Prospect

Wages Are, like, So Old. (Devil in the Details)

Magazine article The American Prospect

Wages Are, like, So Old. (Devil in the Details)

Article excerpt

REPUBLICANS, LIKE YOGA instructors, are great proselytizers for flexibility. Whether the issue is health care, welfare reform or airport security, Republicans invariably prefer flexibility (that is, letting business do what it wants) to standards, mandates, or worker and consumer rights. The flexibility they preach looks a lot like the way Soviet gymnasts were trained to do the splits: lots of pain and lots of pressure.

Take two critically important bills currently making their way, with the backing of the White House, through Congress. Both the Senate version (the Family Time and Workplace Flexibility Act) and the House version (which goes by the slightly more concise Family Time Flexibility Act) contain not one but two of the Republicans' favorite "f" words. The ossified welfare-state relic the legislation takes aim at is overtime pay. Both bills would allow businesses to pay workers putting in extra hours not in old-fashioned inflexible money but in comp time the worker could claim at some point in the future.

To hear the Senate bill's sponsor, New Hampshire's Judd Gregg, describe it, Republicans are just trying to enhance family life. "As more and more people try to find the delicate balance between work, family, and the obligations that go with both," he wrote in the HR I magazine Workforce, "it has become obvious that people need more flexibility to balance the two."

But not, it would seem, more money--or even as much money as they're making today. …

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