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“Overtime pay is a line in the sand for labor” – 5/5/2013 Mark E. Andersen diary.
I couldn’t have said it any better. Attacks on overtime pay are attacks on the 40-hour workweek, on the weekend, on workers’ take home pay, and a key inventive to create new jobs.  

We also know that some in the business community and their conservative friends haven’t been a fan of overtime pay. These interests have been trying to repeal or roll this right back for decades. But the requirement to pay overtime is a linchpin of decent working lives for millions of Americans. Overtime pay must be a line in the sand for all working families.

Today, the House is beginning the debate on a GOP bill that threatens the 40-hour work week and overtime pay, H.R. 1406. This video explains how it works:

But all you really need to know about this bill is who has lined up to support or oppose the Republican bill:

•    On one side, you have the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and National Restaurant Association, among others. They may represent important interests, but they are not the voices of working people. Rather, they’ve been on a decades-long quest to deny overtime pay for overtime work.

•    On the other side, you have more than 160 civil rights, worker advocates, and women’s organizations like the National Partnership for Women and Families, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Interfaith Worker Justice, and MomsRising, among others.

Despite its name, this bill is not about flexibility for workers. A decade ago, the great Molly Ivins put it best when this exact same bill came up:

“With such a smarm of butter over their visages do the Republicans go on about the joys of ‘flexibility’ and ‘freedom of choice’ that you would have to read the bills for maybe 30 seconds before figuring out they're about repealing the 40-hour workweek and ending overtime.”
In other words, when Republicans start talking about flexibility, working people better hold onto their wallets. I hope you take a moment to watch and share this video with your friends. They need to know that H.R. 1406 is about more work and less pay.  
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Bill would require all states to have early voting for at least 15 days prior to Election Day.

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There are a number of factors that are negatively affecting the American economy, the Euro-crisis being one of the most significant that is out of our control.  But make no mistake about what we are seeing here in our own country that is crippling middle class families and hurting our overall economy.

We are seeing in full swing a radical Republican plan to win political power by killing jobs and weakening the middle class. And this is not just politics as usual, this is the most cynical and destructive partisan strategy yet.

The Republican plan to win political power by killing jobs started in 2009 by declaring that their number one priority was to see our President fail. The next step was to obstruct all legislation that could create jobs. They followed that up by sowing severe doubt and fear in the economy last August by fabricating a fake crisisover the debt ceiling. They caused rigid stalemate by opposing any balanced plan to reduce the deficit. And now they are threatening to default on America’s debt again.

They refuse to let a highway bill out of Congress, directly taking hundreds of thousands of jobs out of the economy. They insist on cutting taxes again for millionaires, oil companies and corporations that ship jobs overseas, while making middle class families pay for every spending cut.

Their approach is fiscally irresponsible, economically unsound, and morally indefensible.

What we are seeing is not simply the usual partisan disagreements in Washington. The independent scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein said we are witnessing the most partisan environment in their 40 years of analyzing Congress and that the Republicans are at fault for blocking anything that President Obama might want.

Republican leaders in Congress are knowingly consigning a generation of American families, students and seniors to a lower standard of living and are threatening America's standing in the world economy, all for one crass, partisan purpose – to win political power on behalf of their special interest supporters.

The Republican plan to win political power by killing American jobs is not just politics as usual, it is the most cynical and destructive partisan strategy yet.

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At a time when American families are struggling with a stalled recovery, why should they care about an inside the Beltway political fight over the National Labor Relations Board?  For months, this small, independent agency has been the favorite whipping post for Washington Republicans, presidential candidates, corporate special interests and the right-wing media.

Here’s why every American should pay attention:  The end goal of these attacks is the back door elimination of Americans’ basic rights on the job.  Without these rights, we won’t rebuild a strong middle class, and we won’t fully and fairly recover from the downturn.  The stakes in this fight are very high.

For more than 75 years, the NLRB has administered and enforced rights for private sector employees and employers under the National Labor Relations Act. These are important rights: The right to speak out to improve pay and working conditions, the right to form a union, the right to bargain for a better life and, yes, the right to refrain from these activities.

While this law was enacted in the depths of the Great Depression, the exercise of these rights, with workers joining together to push for a better deal through collective bargaining, built a vibrant middle class in the ensuing decades.

With access to the middle class, many millions of families could afford a home, take an occasional vacation, and save a bit for retirement and their children’s education.  That middle class has been the dynamo at the heart of our economy, long the envy of the world.

Only the NLRB can enforce this law. If workers or employers believe the law has been violated, they file a charge with the NLRB. And then, it’s up to this agency, and only this agency, to decide whether to pursue relief for the violation.  Workers and employers can’t go to court on their own.  The NLRB is the only game in town to enforce Americans’ labor rights.

This is precisely why attempts to shut down the NLRB are so dangerous.  Earlier this year, House Republicans pushed a measure to defund the NLRB entirely. If successful, neither working families nor businesses could seek to have their rights enforced under the law.  

Likewise, Republican efforts to strip remedies from the agency’s tool box put American jobs at risk. In September, Republicans pushed a bill through the House to take away the NLRB’s only effective remedy against an employer that engages in unlawful outsourcing.  With the economy starving for jobs, Republicans passed a “Job Outsourcers’ Bill of Rights” and made it easier to ship existing jobs overseas.  

House Republicans are now pushing through their next anti-worker bill tomorrow. (You can watch live from our website beginning at 10 a.m.)  This one, aptly dubbed the “Election Prevention Act,” would deny workers a right to a free and fair election to form a union. It would do this by adding months or years-long delays and encouraging employers to spend thousands of dollars on attorneys to file frivolous appeals to gum up the election process.  The bill’s clear intention is to wear down workers so that they give up fighting for a better deal.

This year, we’ve seen that, when the NLRB simply enforces the law, all hell breaks loose in the House Republican caucus.  Oversight investigations have been opened on live cases before the Board, threatening workers’ constitutional due process rights to a fair and impartial trial free from political interference.  

And the attacks against this little agency and by extension, every American worker’s rights, go on and on.

We’ve seen the results of anti-worker policies over the years: falling paychecks, higher debt and health care costs, and lower retirement security.

When working families have a shot at the middle class, we can accomplish anything.  And taking away their ability to fight for the middle class will not create a single job.

Our nation’s future does not rest in taking away the things that made our country great or doubling down on the very policies that got us into the mess we are in right now. Nor will handing more power and wealth over to Wall Street and large corporations.

Rather, our nation’s strength largely depends on how fair a shake the American worker gets.

It should never be out of fashion to treat workers with respect, because, when they are fairly rewarded, they create jobs.  They support local businesses.  They rebuild the middle class.  

And that is the key to a real and lasting economic recovery.

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As a couple diarists have already mentioned, the House Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats are currently running an ‘eForum’ on the jobs crisis through our website. We are collecting stories from Americans from all walks of life struggling in this economic downturn.  You’re invited to participate here.

Weeks ago, I requested immediate hearings on the President’s job creation proposals.  Only the Republican majority may call hearings.  None was scheduled.  And now the House is in recess.  With 14 million Americans actively looking for work, time is of the essence.  So committee Democrats have moved forward with our own fact-finding effort on the jobs front: the eForum.

We are inviting Americans to submit their stories about the jobs crisis.  This Congress needs to understand the struggles of working families on the front lines of the Great Recession. Far too often this year, in determining whether and how to act on public policy, those voices and realities are ignored.

While we will be accepting stories up to Monday, October 3, I wanted to stop by and give you an update on what the committee Democrats have received so far and to emphasize how essential it is that this on-the-ground information about the jobs crisis be a part of the oversight and legislative discussion in Congress.

While many Americans are in truly desperate situations, they haven’t given up. They haven’t given up on the possibility that they could find a decent job. They haven’t given up on the idea that they can get back on their feet and once again be a wage earner and job creator.  And they haven’t entirely given up that their elected representatives will not only hear them, but do something about the jobs situation now.

These Americans played by the rules but have been whipsawed by a financial collapse and decades of policies that squeezed the middle class. And all they want now is a fighting chance.

They are teachers who only want a fighting chance to inspire our nation’s school children.

I loved my job, not just because my students were great, but because I knew that by doing this job I was helping these children stay off of public assistance.

Yes, I'm worried about my own family and our finances but I also worry about the hundreds of students in northern Kentucky that won't be told what skills they can have that they can use to be independent taxpayers." --Rene, Covington, KY

They are the long-term unemployed who always seemed to be able to find a new job in the past, until this financial collapse.

I've been a business development professional in the Biotechnology arena for more than 20 years. I was laid off due to a business downturn, and I have now been unemployed for 12 months. In my entire 30 year career it has not taken more than 60 days to secure a new position until now. --Don, Benicia, CA

They are construction workers who only want a fighting chance to help to rebuild our country.

My husband works as a UNION concrete laborer, as two companies shuttered their doors without warning, we lost it all, that is everything we built over a twelve year marriage with two kids…My husband was a hard worker and thankfully his work ethic has produced him work from former employers, although neither one of those employers can produce year round work, they are both working hard to find construction work for their employees, but there are not many projects funded, but MANY NEEDED.  All of my husband’s co-workers who have for years, worked hard to provide for their families, are losing the grip they have on their homes, and their lives.  We have been doing our best to provide for the destitute, and those people are our friends and neighbors. --Tanya, Lake Geneva, WI

And they are college graduates still looking for their first job, years after receiving their diploma and thousands of dollars in debt.

I have been struggling to find a full time job since I graduated from San Jose State University in 2005. From 2008 to 2011 I worked as a volunteer and was paid part time at a nonprofit. I am part of those 25-34 still living with their parents. I have been the last couple of years applying for jobs in data entry, and as an office and admin assistant.  I haven't received a response to interview except for one job. They won't hire me because I don't have enough work experience, but I am supposed to get work experience if they don't hire me. --Allan, San Jose, CA

While there is still hope among many who have written in, everyone realizes that time (and patience) is running short.

These stories must be a central part of the discussion in Congress.  Together, they paint a vivid picture of the depth and breadth of the jobs crisis.  If you have a story to tell about this downturn, I invite you to participate in the eForum.  

You can learn how here:  http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/...

We will also occasionally feature stories on our Twitter feed @edworkforcedems. Yesterday we featured stories from teachers.


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