Time and a Half


There are a lot of fringe benefits about our work life that we really owe to unions. We didn’t get them tanks to the goodness of our employers’s hearts. We got them literally through blood. Regardless of what people know of history, workers died to get the 40-hour work week, weekends and overtime.

But there’s always those who are doing everything they can to roll all of that back. The latest attempt? Conservatives want to give employees and employers the option of comp time versus overtime.

Comp time is when you earn time off for every hour you work over 40 as opposed to time and a half wages. Government workers have comp time though it’s not available in the private sector. Conservatives are trying to give them the option.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem so bad. It gives workers the chance to choose time off or the extra money. The conservative argument? ‘We’re trying to provide workers flexibility.’

It’s one thing I can’t stand about conservatives is their intentional framing of certain legislation. They say it’s about helping workers spend time with their families. Come on. We’re not stupid. It’s REALLY about businesses saving money on having to pay overtime.

One thing you won’t hear the conservatives go on about in their efforts to pass comp time is the fact that employers can dictate when and how much comp time you can take off. They can’t tell you how to spend your time and a half.

There are REASONS why we have certain regulations when it comes to work. It’s for the workers. If you’re going to change the law, at least be honest about the reasons why you’re trying to change it.

I think that’s what irks me so much. It’s the syntax that’s diametrically opposite of their intentions. Like ‘No Child Left Behind.’ That wasn’t really about children. It was about shutting down low-performance schools, ergo fewer campuses and higher student-to-teacher ration which means less in taxes.

Then there’s Voter ID, which conservatives said was about reducing voter fraud. Several studies, expensive studies, have concluded that there’s really no such thing.

But the Voter ID initiatives were never really about making sure a voters were who they were at the poll. It was really about keeping poor voters, who likely won’t have an ID and will likely vote Democratic, from showing up at the poll at all. Voter ID was a solution to a non-existent problem.

I’m not naive. I know that’s politics. It’s not too much to ask though to be honest about what you’re trying to do. Don’t say something is for workers when it’s really for businesses. Don’t say something’s about education when it’s really about shutting down schools and reducing taxes.

They should at least have the decency to  hide their misdirections in the bill and don’t say anything about it until it’s made law, you know, like the Democrats did.

(Interesting observation about this post, Andrew Carnegie once pushed violence against his striking union workers. His foundation helped sponsor the Voter ID study.)


  1. Comp time is quite common here – in fact, my boyfriend should have comp time, his employer does not pay overtime. Reality is, that he still works about 8 more hours than are in his contract every week, most of which he used even not to write down, because he could never spend his free days then. Right now things are not going great, and he hears things like ‘well, you come in late and go early’ – while his job often means that he comes in, and has to do a load of things before he even comes near his office, and when he leaves he has to take into account that on his way out he spends another half hour working. And when he is home he gets some urgent mails that he has to answer, and some program to write because at his workplace it is too busy, and… so he decided to write down every hour he makes. Then it is his employers problem that he works too much.

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