Dear Commons Community,
A few additional words in a House transportation bill would strip several thousand workers of a minimum wage and overtime protection. The Huffington Post is reporting that:
“Listed in the bill under the heading “Technical Correction,” provision 6602 would exempt several companies who transport rail workers from their obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the 1938 law that guarantees basic worker rights. The carve-out would allow a handful of boutique contractors to pay no overtime to their drivers who haul rail workers between worksites, often driving long distances of 300 miles or more…
It’s outrageous that House Republicans are trying to take away overtime protections for a class of workers at the behest of a special interest,” Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said of the provision in a statement to HuffPost. “These workers deserve the right to overtime pay. It’s not only a matter of fairness, but also a matter of public safety.”
Earnings for rail-crew drivers often work out to little more than minimum wage, and many drivers must remain on-call for long stretches…
Jim Stem, legislative director at the United Transportation Union, said he just recently became aware of the provision’s implications, given that the bill would merely tweak a few words in existing law. He called the provision a giveway to contractors in the rail industry. “This is an earmark for a handful of wealthy people who own these companies. This is a windfall.”
This is why we have the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is not a protest against rich people and corporations but a protest against those who use their wealth to corrupt the political system for their own benefit.