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    Bush administration

January 8, 2004

Bush Advising Employers How to Cheat Low Wage Workers Out of Earned Pay

Working families are under attack by the Bush Administration yet again. Throughout his term, George W. Bush has consistently attacked workers by allowing federal contracts to go to companies that broke labor laws, easing enforcement of workplace laws, and proposing changes in overtime rules to drop 8 million workers from overtime eligibility – his latest attack on working America.  And for those left, Bush is telling employers how to cut overtime even further.
For almost a year, Bush claimed his overtime proposals would result in 1.3 million new workers eligible to receive overtime pay.  But with the date fast approaching when the new rules are expected to be issued, the Administration is undermining its own proposal by advising employers how to avoid it.
Buried in the proposed new regulations are suggestions for how companies can avoid overtime by “”payroll adjustments”” such as cutting base worker salaries so the additional overtime payments would bring their total pay to their old salaries, or raising salaries just to the $22,100 threshold so the workers are not overtime-eligible.
Doug Dority, UFCW International President, accused Bush of using the overtime proposals to “”feed the greed of corporate America”” and said the proposal would result in the “”largest, single pay cut for workers in history.””  Bush used the 1.3 million low-income workers as justification for forcing pay cuts on over 8 million workers whose jobs will be reclassified, making them ineligible for overtime.
The Department of Labor advice means employers are cutting pay or cutting hours.
Over 50,000 UFCW members working in retail, food processing, health care and manufacturing will suddenly be exempt from overtime if the final rule is passed in March.  In a statement before a hearing on the proposed rule changes on overtime pay eligibility, Dority said, “”While these are skilled and valuable workers, they do not have the income level or the personal control of their work to equate them for overtime pay eligibility with a supermarket executive or a medical doctor.””
By advocating pay cuts and reclassifying workers the Bush administration cheats low- wage workers out of earned pay.  “”All of them would be surprised to find that they are now ‘executives’ or ‘professionals,’ and all of them would be outraged to find out that their newly ordained status comes with a pay cut,”” said Dority.
December 19, 2003

Bush’s Idea of Fairness–Cuts for Everybody: Tax Cuts for The Rich, Pay Cuts For The Workers

Over 8 million workers will get a pay cut as the result of the Bush’s Administration’s effort to re-write overtime pay regulations, according to Doug Dority, president of the 1.4 million United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).  In a statement before a hearing on proposed rule changes on overtime pay eligibility, Dority charged that the Bush plan would be the “”largest, single pay cut for workers in history,”” and has no rational basis except to “”feed the greed of corporate America.””
Responding to its corporate funders, the Bush Administration’s Labor Department would re-define the exempt occupational categories of   “”Executive,”” “”Administrative,”” and “”Professional”” to exempt jobs such as a lead produce clerk in a supermarket or a hospital technician from overtime pay. “”While these are skilled and valuable workers,”” said Dority, “”they do not have the income level or the personal control of their work to equate them for overtime pay eligibility with a supermarket executive or a medical doctor.””
Over 50,000 UFCW members working in retail food, food processing, health care and manufacturing would suddenly be exempt from overtime and could be required to work unlimited hours with no additional income if the Bush Administration has its way. “”All of them would be surprised to find that they are now ‘executives’ or ‘professionals,’ and all of them would be outraged to find out that their newly ordained status comes with a pay cut,”” said Dority.
“”I guess this is George W. Bush’s idea of fairness. Cuts for everybody. Tax cuts for the wealthy. Pay cuts for the workers,”” concluded Dority.
December 11, 2003

Doug Dority Statement on Overtime Regulations

Statement of Doug Dority
International President
United Food And Commercial Workers International Union

Presented at the Hearing on Proposed Regulatory Changes to Overtime Exemptions in the Fair Labor Standards Act Before the Democratic Policy Committee

December 11, 2003

On behalf of the 1.4 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), I want to thank you for this opportunity to voice the concerns, the anger and the outrage of working families across the United States over the largest, single pay cut for workers in history.

The Bush Administration, through its revised overtime regulations, proposes to cut the pay of more than 8 million working families for no other reason than to feed the greed of corporate America.

These families do the extra work to earn the extra pay to save for a home of their own, to give their kids a chance at college, to make the rent and car payments, or may be just have a little extra for a vacation or Christmas presents.

The Bush pay cut has no basis in law, in economics or in addressing the real needs of working families.

The law providing for overtime pay has not changed. Workers need for family and personal time has not changed.  And the need for working families to put in extra hours to earn a little more pay to make ends meet has not changed.  And another thing has not changed—the greed that wants endless work for limited pay.

The Bush Administration would take us back to the 19th century while claiming it wants to “”modernize”” the regulations.

I will tell you there is nothing “”modern”” about long hours and low pay. The Retail Clerks Union, one of the unions that make up the UFCW, was formed over a century ago, specifically because retail store owners required around-the-clock hours without pay. In fact, one of the first demands of the Retail Clerks Union was an end to the practice of requiring clerks to sleep overnight in the stores.

It took almost 50 years before the law was passed that limited work hours and established overtime pay. The law worked. Restrictions on hours created more jobs. Overtime pay helped working families move into the middle class.

Today we see a job gap—the economy goes up but the number of jobs stays the same. Today we see a pay gap—real income goes up at the top but drops out of the bottom for workers. So, the logical step would be to strengthen enforcement of overtime laws.

But the Bush Administration turns logic on its head, and instead proposes to re-write the rules in a way that takes away overtime pay eligibility from millions of workers. Employers could require an increasing number of employees to work unlimited hours without overtime pay. Employers would not only pocket the money that should have gone into workers’ paychecks, employers can steal the time that belongs to families, to communities and to workers themselves.

The Bush pay cut is an assault on working families—it reduces their income and takes away their time together.

The Bush Administration would re-define “”Executive,”” Administrative,”” and “”Professional”” — the limited job categories that have always been exempt from overtime pay—to include a wide range of workers—from a lead produce clerk in a supermarket to a technician in a hospital—that have always been eligible for overtime pay. While these are skilled and valuable workers, they do not have the income or personal control of their work as do the supermarket executive and the medical doctor. To lump skilled labor into exempt job categories simply to deny them overtime is just wrong, and must be stopped.

Bush’s Department of Labor claims that the intent is only to make the rules simpler and easier to apply. The real impact is to make it simpler and easier for employers to declare jobs exempt from overtime pay.

The UFCW represents workers in retail food, food processing, health care and manufacturing. We estimate that 50,000 of our members would fall under the new definitions for exempt job categories. All of them would be surprised to learn they are now “”executives”” or “”professionals.”” They would be outraged when they find out that their new status actually means a pay cut.

I guess this is George W. Bush’s idea of fairness—cuts for everybody. Tax cuts for the wealthy. Pay cuts for the workers.  Of course, the wealthy wind up with more than they deserve, and the workers get less than they need.

It is time we took a stand against greed. We ask your help in making sure that workers get the pay for the hours they work, including their overtime pay. Thank you for this opportunity to voice concerns of working Americans.

August 4, 2003

Statement by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

On the eve of the initiation of President Bush’s proposed Smallpox Vaccination Program for health care workers, the UFCW is asking for changes in the program to assure needed protections for workers and patients as they do their part to win the war on terrorism.

Marilyn Savage, President of the United Staff Nurses UFCW Local 141 said: “”While our nurses recognize smallpox as a potential threat, the real enemy is inadequate staffing in health care facilities to take care of patients. To lose health care workers to illness from vaccination would worsen the problem. Our hospitals are saying they need more time and information so they can make decisions about this vaccination program. Let’s give them the time.””

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects that as many as 42 of every 1 million people inoculated will suffer severe side effects from the vaccination. One or two will likely die. The vaccine is made from live virus and could be dangerous particularly for pregnant women, children younger than 1, people with skin conditions and anyone with a weakened immune system from chemotherapy, organ transplants or HIV.

Health care workers need more education about smallpox, the risks of vaccination, the current lack of compensation for medical expenses or lost income for any health care worker who suffers severe side effects from the vaccine.

“”Our members are ready to do their part but in return they’re asking for more information and protection. It’s not right for the Bush Administration to offer protection from liability to hospitals but no protection for injury or lost income for individual health care workers, “”says President Doug Dority.