Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The GOP hates the working class

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Via ThinkProgress, this press release:

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to recess appoint Paul DeCamp as head of the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing the nation’s wage and hour laws, including overtime laws, workplace discrimination laws, and child labor laws. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement today on the recess appointment:

“Enforcing the nation’s wage and hours laws is a critical task that ensures that employees are not cheated out of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. The person in charge of enforcing wage and hour laws must be objective and willing to take on powerful employers if they are abusing the wage laws.

“As a lawyer, Paul DeCamp has never represented American workers in a single case. He has worked on behalf of Wal-Mart – a company with an abhorrent record of labor relations – and other companies against the interests of American workers and consumers in numerous cases. Yet he is the man that President Bush has chosen as one of the nation’s top enforcers of workplace rights. It’s no surprise that President Bush would appoint a corporate lawyer to a position intended to safeguard workers against corporate abuses. This recess appointment is one more reminder that the President does not care about making sure that workers are treated fairly on the job or enforcing laws that he doesn’t happen to like.”

More from the AFL-CIO blog:

President Bush this afternoon made another backdoor appointment to his administration. He used a recess appointment to install a lawyer who represented Wal-Mart with a long record of urging restrictions to the Fair Labor Standard Act’s (FLSA’s) overtime pay and other provisions to head up the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Paul DeCamp, who was grilled at an August Senate confirmation hearing, backed the Bush administration’s move to gut the FLSA’s overtime pay protections saying it presented:

a window of opportunity, particularly in light of the federal elections of 2002, for the business community to achieve positive results that can bring the FLSA into the 21st century.

He even warned that if the overtime laws were not changed, millions more workers could become eligible for overtime. Strangely enough, he also said that it would not be “in the interest” of the workers who might earn overtime eligibility.

It is time to bring the FLSA into line with current notions of public policy. If reform does not come, then the risk and expense of collective and class action litigation may compel employers to reclassify millions of workers as non-exempt [i.e., eligible for overtime], a change that is in the interest of neither the employees nor their employers.

A recess appointment can be made when Congress is out of session. With the House and Senate due back to work next week, Bush was running out of time to circumvent congressional approval for DeCamp. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) was expected to use Senate rules to block DeCamp’s nomination. At an Aug. 1 hearing on DeCamp’s nomination, Kennedy said DeCamp’s work for Wal-Mart

…raises troubling questions. His record clearly demonstrates that he does not have the commitment to workers’ rights that is necessary to fulfill the goals of these important laws.

Kennedy also raised questions about DeCamp’s work as a senior policy adviser to the Labor Department’s Employment Standards Division and the division’s failure to “stop rampant wage theft” involving wage and hour violations by employers engaged in Gulf Coast recovery work following Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. Kennedy said immigrant workers were especially targeted by employers.

Under the GOP the middle and lower economic classes have lost ground on wages and salaries, while the ultra-wealthy have gained a lot. Wonder why?

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 2:32 pm

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