Private: Shake with one hand, steal with the other

Hey, so unemployment has climbed to its highest rate since 1994, and the poverty rate continues to rise, but the Bush administration still isn’t finished screwing over the working class. The paper of record reports today that the administration wants to do away with overtime pay for many workers:

The Bush administration, which has the very bad habit of smiling at working people while siphoning money from their pockets, is trying to change the federal Fair Labor Standards Act in a way that could cause millions of workers to lose their right to overtime pay.

The act, one of the last major domestic reform measures of the New Deal, gave Americans the 40-hour workweek and a minimum wage (which began at 25 cents an hour in the late 1930’s). It wiped out grueling 12-hour days for many workers and prohibited the use of child labor in interstate commerce.

The act’s overtime regulations have not been updated since 1975, and part of what the administration is proposing makes sense. Under existing rules only workers earning less than $8,060 a year automatically qualify for overtime. That would be raised to $22,100 a year.

But then comes the bad news. Nearly 80 percent of all workers are in jobs that qualify them for overtime pay, which is time-and-a-half for each hour that is worked beyond the normal 40-hour week. The administration wants to make it easier for employers to exempt many of those workers from overtime protection by classifying them as administrative, professional or executive personnel.

(Thanks to Ms. Smith, to whom I owe and will send email, for the link.)