Home > Business, Democratic > Democrat opposition to the Working Families Flexibility Act favors public over private employees

Democrat opposition to the Working Families Flexibility Act favors public over private employees

June 18, 2013

faceless_familyA little over a month ago I posted about the House passing the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (HR1406). The bill passed with a very partisan vote. Almost all Republicans voted Aye while almost all Democrats voted No. Personally I think this bill takes the wrong approach. Instead of increasing labor law I believe it would be better for employees and employers to reduce labor regulations; thus allowing greater flexibility for employers and employees to come up with such agreements on their own. However since that is not likely I think this bill should pass to equal labor law between the private and public sectors.

I happened to be at a payroll law seminar today and was quite surprised how few people realized this is an option for public sectors. (I’m sure it was a an accidental omission that those speaking out against the Working Families Flexibility Act usually fail to mention public sector employees have this option. Right?) There seemed to be a lot of confusion in this seminar as to why public sector employees should get this flexibility when private sector employees do not. To me there are two possible reasons Democrats are fighting against the Working Families Flexibility Act:

  1. Democrats believe public sector employees are a higher class of citizen and thus get more rights
  2. Democrats are using this bill as a political opportunity to fight against “evil business owners”

I don’t believe the first scenario to be true. However even if Democrat politicians don’t believe that public sector employees are a “higher class” than private sector employees; by the very action of voting against this bill they are continuing the unintended consequence of giving public sector employees more rights.

I do believe the second scenario is true. If Democrat politicians truly believed compensatory time was so “exploitative” of employees they would work to repeal section 7(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (pdf). That would remove this exploitative behavior used on public sector employees. Why aren’t Democrat politicians doing so? Because the backlash from public sector employees that use this right would be tremendous. No, Democrat politicians opposing compensatory time for private sectors is not about saving exploited workers. Rather it has everything to do with getting political points from their base by “fighting evil business owners”. What better way is there for Democrat politicians to gain political points than by standing up to “the man”. The fact Democrats have been opposing private sector compensatory bills for over a decade gives them a continuous issue to raise political points.

The bill is current stuck in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. I don’t really expect the bill to gain any traction soon. The Democrat controlled Senate simply cares more about gaining political points with its base than actually offering more flexibility to the private sector employees and employers that help build the economy.

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