Corporations Pushing Bill to Take Away Overtime from Computer and Web Workers

Apparently unsatisfied by the enormous profits they’ve made while average Americans suffer in a difficult economy, corporations are pushing Congress to enact a new law that would exempt a large class of workers from receiving overtime pay. And they’re receiving support from members of both parties on Capitol Hill.

Dubbed the Computer Professionals Update Act (CPU Act), Senate bill 1747 would change the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to remove overtime protection and compensation from “almost everyone working primarily in information technology” who earns either a salary, or an hourly rate of $27.63, according to Paul E. Almeida, president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE).

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Information technology companies are focused on cutting pay for the people who work for them. If their effort succeeds, however, it will suggest to every other industry that the time is now to gut FLSA for every covered private-sector worker.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate last month by Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), the CPU Act has found a Democratic co-sponsor in Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who is joined by two Republican co-sponsors, Sens. Mike Enzi (Wy.) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.).

In a letter to senators, DPE President Almeida said of the corporations pushing the bill:

[T]he same companies that send work offshore and bring lower-paid workers to the U.S. on H-1B visas now want to pay U.S. workers less in the U.S.

At at least one major anti-labor law firm, cheerleading for the bill borders on the exuberant. On the Wage & Hour Defense blog of Epstein, Becker & Green, Douglas Weiner and Meg Thering write:

Unlike much of the other legislation affecting employers that has been proposed or passed this year, the CPU Act would make business easier for employers and decrease the risk of employee misclassification lawsuits. If the proposed legislation passes, employers would be able to classify more employees as exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA. This would be a welcome change from the persistent drum beat of enhanced enforcement initiatives announced by government agencies and upticks in class and collective actions this year.

In July, Epstein, Becker & Green’s Jay P. Krupin testified before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in opposition to proposed modest NLRB rules changes.