JANUARY 26, 2004 -- Posted at 10:45pm
JONESBORO, AR - The Bush Administration is trying to overhaul labor laws, but those who rely on overtime say the changes go overboard.
Electricians represent one of the many labor professions that require workers to travel long distances to find work. Hotel rooms, gasoline prices and meals on the road quickly add up.
"Overtime is almost a necessity to be able to survive," said Steve Morgan, Business Manager of Electrical Workers Local #1516.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 defines the types of jobs that qualify workers for overtime pay. Labor Department leaders said the act needs to be revised and updated. The proposals were prompted by employers who complained that they were being hit hard financially with lawsuits filed by workers who felt they had been denied overtime.
Morgan explained, "We oppose any reclassification of any kind to create loopholes."
The House and the Senate voted down the labor changes.
"I voted against that bill. I think it was the wrong thing to do," added Berry. "I don't think you should take overtime pay away from working people. I just think that's not fair."
President Bush reworked the legislation and sent it back through Capitol Hill with additional stipulations in order to get it passed. According to the congressman, some of them are outrageous.
"Like a $50 million dollar indoor rain forest that they gave to Senator (Chuck) Grassley to build in Iowa," Berry said.
Steve Morgan has signed petitions through his union's international headquarters protesting the changes. He said he'll do whatever it takes to ensure the Fair Labor Standards Act remains fair.
"The corporations couldn't do anything without the working people," Morgan commented, "and this is just a slap in the face to the working people to take away their right to overtime."