What the GOP’s Supreme Obstruction Means for Women

Senate Republicans are leaving women in limbo on several crucial issues.

— by Martha Burk, OtherWords.org author
Martha BurkSenators, constitutional scholars may tell you, must “advise and consent” on the president’s Supreme Court nominees. But apparently the official GOP policy is to “refuse and obstruct.” They’ve vowed not even to give President Obama’s nominees a vote.

These Republicans claim that leaving the Supreme Court understaffed is no big deal. Well, it’s certainly a big deal for women. Pending cases on abortion, birth control, education, and public employee unions are all sitting before a divided court.

The scariest case is Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole.

It’s a challenge to a Texas law that would close all but about 10 abortion clinics in the state — down from more than 40 — by requiring them to essentially become mini-hospitals. They’d have to employ only doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a regulation almost unheard of for safe and common procedures like abortion.

LaDawna Howard / Flickr
LaDawna Howard / Flickr

Since an appeals court upheld the requirements, a 4-4 deadlock on the Supreme Court would give Texas the green light to enforce them. And it would almost certainly encourage other states to enact similar laws.

On the birth control front, the court will consider Zubik v. Burwell. A successor to the Hobby Lobby case, it’s an argument over whether religiously affiliated institutions have to observe the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employer-provided health plans cover birth control.

These groups are allowed to avoid the requirement by filling out a form, in which case the government will arrange with their insurer to cover their employees. A few of these groups are claiming that still makes them complicit in sinful conduct.

A 4-4 tie at the Supreme Court would be a mixed bag, since most — but not all — appeals court decisions have upheld the accommodation as not burdensome to religious practice.

Meanwhile, established labor law is on the line in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, where the court will consider whether public employees who choose not to join unions can still be required to pay fees for collective bargaining activities. A decision against the unions could mortally wound them.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, women are the majority of the public sector workforce, and the wage gap with their male counterparts is smaller for public union women than non-union women. The lower court favored the unions, so a tie would stave off a major blow to their viability. But that’s still a lot to risk.

Women are now also the majority of college students, and women of color could be greatly affected by a decision in Fisher v. University of Texas. In that case, the court will decide whether the school’s race‑conscious admissions program violates the Constitution’s equal protection principles.

Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself. So if the Senate leaves Scalia’s seat unfilled, the case will be decided by seven justices — which means there can be no tie. Three judges — John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito — oppose affirmative action, and a fourth, Anthony Kennedy, has previously expressed doubts about the University of Texas policy.

So what’s the score?

In four cases affecting women the most, two could go in women’s favor with tie votes. A third tie vote would go against women, and a 4-3 conservative majority would hurt them in the final case as well.

However you score it, Senate Republicans are leaving women in limbo until a new justice is chosen and new cases can be brought. That could take years. Women — and the country — deserve better.


Martha Burk is the director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) and the author of the book Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics, and the Change We Need. Follow Martha on Twitter @MarthaBurk.

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Stomping on Our Constitutional Rights

Several states have made it a crime to record corporate animal abusers in the act.

— by

Jim HightowerImagine the outcry by tea party Republicans if state legislators were passing laws banning the use of video cameras in banks to capture images of robbers.

Yet those very same tea partiers have been passing laws in various states to ban the recording of inhumane, immoral, and disgusting abuses of turkeys, hogs, and other animals by giant factory farm operators like Tyson.

The only reason the public knows about chickens being stomped to death and pregnant sows being driven insane because they’re caged so tightly they can’t even turn around is that courageous whistleblowers have secretly recorded videos of the intolerable violence inside these animal concentration camps.

Chickens in Cages
Farm Sanctuary/Flickr

In response to the exposés, however, eight states run by shameless, corporate-hugging Republicans have rushed to protect the worst abusers, making it illegal to release such videos to the media or the public.

North Carolina’s corrupt legislature, for example, has decreed that videographers who cause bad publicity for corporate animal torturers can be sued by the corporation and fined $5,000 for each day abuses are recorded. To add to the Kafkaesque absurdity of this “ag gag law,” the state legislature’s corporate servants mandated that releasing videos ofabuses in nursing home chains, day care centers, and veterans’ facilities is now also banned.

In their eagerness to please corporate lobbyists and get campaign donations from these abusive profiteers, tea party Republicans across the country are stomping on our constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of the press, just as callously as the animal abusers stomp chickens to death.

For information and action tips on stopping this disgraceful industry-legislative cabal, go to www.aspca.org/OpenTheBarns.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, and a member of the Public Citizen board. OtherWords.org

Betting the Farm on Free Trade?

The White House is gambling with our health, jobs, and environment by embracing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

— by

Janet RedmanFrom her home in Berks County, Pennsylvania, Karen Feridun is helping stage a growing citizen pushback against the expansion of natural gas extraction. But a far-reaching global deal recently signed halfway around the world may make her job much harder.

Feridun got involved in this fight over concerns that fracking waste, laden with toxic chemicals, could end up in the sewage sludge that some Pennsylvania towns spread on local farm fields.

Figuring her best bet for keeping the state’s water, food, and communities safe was putting a stop to fracking, Feridun founded Berks Gas Truth. The group is now part of a statewide coalition calling for a halt to fracking in Pennsylvania.

no-TPP-trans-pacific-partnership-protests
AFGE / Flickr

The campaign got a boost when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, after hearing a case brought by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, ruled that local governments have the right to protect the public trust. The court also found that oil and gas companies must abide by municipal zoning and planning laws.

The decision was celebrated as a huge victory for local control. But, Feridun told me, “the Trans-Pacific Partnership could turn over the apple cart entirely.”

The day after we spoke, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Frohman joined top officials from eleven other Pacific Rim nations in a New Zealand casino to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a sweeping “free trade” agreement aimed at opening national borders to the flow of goods, services, and finance.

The location couldn’t have been more symbolic. By entering into this deal, the Obama administration is playing roulette with America’s future.

The White House hopes to win greater access to raw materials, cheap labor, and burgeoning consumer markets in Asia for U.S. companies. What do we stand to lose? Nothing less than the ability to set rules and regulations that protect our families’ health, our jobs, and our environment.

The provision at the heart of this wager is something called an “investor-state” clause. It would let companies based in TPP partner countries sue governments over laws or regulations that curtail their profit-making potential.

It’s a risky bet. Here’s the White House’s simplistic calculus: The U.S. government has never lost an investor-state case.

The more we win, it seems, the bigger our next gamble. The TPP would be the largest free trade agreement in history, covering about 40 percent of the global economy and giving additional countries the option to “dock” to the treaty later. It also adds thousands of companies that could potentially sue the United States in trade court.

Back in Berks County, the demand from newly opened overseas markets for U.S. gas may increase local pressure to frack. The TPP’s investor-state provisions would let foreign-owned gas companies challenge any statewide limits on the practice standing in their way.

If this sounds unlikely, look no further than our neighbors to the north. U.S. oil and gas company Lone Pine Resources sued Canada using a similar clause in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) when Quebec passed a moratorium to halt fracking under the St. Lawrence River. And Lone Pine won.

Now, TransCanada — the Canadian company behind the hugely unpopular Keystone XL pipeline — is bringing a $15 billion claim against the United States for denying permits to build it. That’s exactly the kind of legal action that makes people like Karen Feridun fighting oil and gas projects nervous.

Even if Washington wins the TransCanada suit under NAFTA, the fear of spending millions of dollars fending off litigation under the much larger TPP could have a chilling effect on future efforts to keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground.

Luckily, as Feridun and her neighbors know, Congress hasn’t approved the Trans-Pacific Partnership yet. If lawmakers care about protecting good jobs, clean skies, safe water, and a stable climate in this hotly contested election year, they’d be wise not to gamble against the public interest.


Janet Redman directs the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies. IPS-dc.org
Distributed by OtherWords.org. 

Merry Christmas — Have Yourself Some Anti-Refugee Hysteria

Chris ToensingThis holiday season, politicians are taking aim at some of the most helpless people on earth.

— by Chris Toensing

As holiday shoppers empty their wallets to buy presents for family and friends, there’s been an outbreak of miserliness among our politicians — directed at some of the world’s most helpless people.  At least 30 Republican governors, and one Democrat, are vowing to bar Syrian refugees from their states. One family was actually turned away at the Indiana state line when the local resettlement agency got a nasty phone call from the authorities.

In Washington, 47 House Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to pass a bill requiring each and every Syrian applying to enter the United States to be personally approved by the heads of three intelligence agencies. That would include “widows and orphans,” says President Barack Obama, who rightly opposes the measure.

It’s not just an American affliction. In late November the European Union signed a deal with Turkey offering that country nearly $3.2 billion to clamp down on refugees trying to exit across its borders. The EU has such pacts with Libya and Morocco, too.

What’s with the mean spirits? It’s supposed to be the season of generosity.

Global Panorama/Flickr
Global Panorama/Flickr

The immediate trigger is fear, prompted in part by false reports that one of the terrorists who attacked Paris on November 13 was a recent Syrian migrant. In fact, almost all of the assailants identified so far were Belgian or French citizens. But it’s only too easy for demagogues like the Republican presidential candidates to dream up nightmare scenarios about a jihadi militant or two sneaking into America disguised as an asylum seeker.

Sure enough, after the terrible mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Rand Paul put forward a measure in Congress that would have imposed an “immediate moratorium” on visas for refugees from “high-risk” countries. Neither of the killers was a refugee — one was born in America and the other grew up in U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia. And they obtained every piece of their enormous arsenal right here in the US of A, legally.

Paul’s opportunism taps into deep currents of anti-Muslim prejudice that politicians have been stirring up for years.

When Donald Trump says that mosques should be under permanent surveillance and that Muslims should be barred from entering the country, or when Jeb Bush says that Syrian Christians can move here but not Muslims, they send a clear message: They believe all Muslims are potential terrorists.

This dark hint isn’t just the opposite of charity. It’s racist — and downright perverse.

Syrian refugees are fleeing from terrorism, whether by the regime of Bashar al-Assad or his radical Islamist opponents, among them the Islamic State. Over half of Syria’s 22 million people have been displaced from their homes over the course of the dreadful civil war — now a proxy war — that has raged there since 2011.

The pace of flight has increased with the Russian airstrikes on the side of the regime. In October alone, the UN reported, 120,000 people were forced to leave areas that had previously been spared the worst of the fighting.

Syrians run first to relatives in other provinces, then to neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. But those front-line nations lack the resources to absorb the refugees indefinitely. So, more and more, Syrians are spending their savings to head westward via dangerous smuggling routes. Far too many are dying along the way.

Ben Carson, another GOP White House hopeful, visited a refugee camp in Jordan and claimed that most of the residents want to return home rather than come to America. He’s not wrong, exactly — anyone would rather live in familiar surroundings than in a strange country across the ocean.

But Carson left out the important part: Syrians only want to go home when it’s safe. That day, sadly, is a long way off.

In the meantime, the United States and Europe can save lives by easing the restrictions on formal, legal refugee resettlement. We should welcome as many escapees from the Syrian catastrophe as possible.

‘Tis the season of giving, not barring the door.


Chris Toensing is editor of Middle East Report, published by the Middle East Research and Information Project in Washington, DC. MERIP.org.  Distributed by OtherWords.org

A Supreme Threat to American Democracy

We’re one judge away from government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations.

By Jamie Raskin

Jamie Raskin
Jamie Raskin

Here’s a little quiz you won’t find on the LSATs: Which Supreme Court justice called a recent ruling by the court a “threat to American democracy”? And what decision was it?

A. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote it of the Citizens United decision, which armed corporations with the political free speech rights of human beings.

B. Justice Sonia Sotomayor included this phrase in her dissent to the Shelby County v. Holder ruling, which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

C. Justice Elena Kagan said it while reflecting on the Bush v. Gore case, which shut down the counting of more than 100,000 ballots in Florida — handing George W. Bush his first presidential win.

D. Justice Antonin Scalia penned these words when he objected to the recent Obergefell ruling, which struck down marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans.

The answer is D.

I made up the rest, but they’d all be far more accurate than what Scalia said in real life.

It’s hard to think about the state of American democracy without pondering the Supreme Court. As the least democratic branch of the federal government, it’s always had outsized importance in shaping the opportunities for citizens to participate in our political institutions and social life.

Scalia
Flickr / SteveMasker

 

At its best, the Supreme Court has upheld the principle of “one person-one vote,” struck down whites-only party primaries, and invalidated educational apartheid. It did those important things when less enlightened views might have been more popular.

At its worst, the court has upheld poll taxes and literacy tests, okayed restrictive photo ID requirements for voting, knocked the teeth out of the Voting Rights Act, and intervened in the 2000 election to stop vote counting.

For better or worse, the Supreme Court defines the rules of engagement of American politics. So what’s at stake in the 2016 presidential race?

A whole lot.

With several justices already over 80, the next president could nominate as many as four new members of the court. Will the new justices bolster the conservatives, who favor legislative power only when it violates minority rights, or the liberals, who have demonstrated a serious commitment both to voting rights and to the legislative process?

With the plutocratic Chief Justice John Roberts and Scalia leading the way, the conservatives pose as outraged populists regarding marriage equality. They pretend, ludicrously, that they don’t believe in the court reviewing and invalidating popularly enacted laws.

What a joke. The same justices have no problem with nullifying laws that implement affirmative action, produce majority-minority legislative districts, or exclude corporations from spending money in political campaigns.

These so-called conservatives strike down almost any law that curtails the power of corporations. They just don’t like the idea of equal protection and due process applying to people.

These same so-called conservative justices have some questionable ethcal issues as well:

  • Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas attended Koch Brothers political functions at a time when the court was considering loosening limits on corporate campaign contributions.
  • Justice Samuel Alito spoke at a fundraising dinner for the conservative American Spectator magazine, where tickets were sold for as much as $25,000 a plate.
  • Justice Thomas failed to report his wife’s income from the Heritage Foundation, even as she lobbied against the Affordable Care Act while cases worked their way to the Supreme Court. He also failed to recuse himself from ACA-related cases despite a clear conflict of interest with his wife’s work.

But here’s the principal question facing the court for the foreseeable future: Who is the Constitution for? Is it for corporations, or the rest of us?

Right-wing forces want to scrap all limits on campaign spending and contributions. They want corporations to be treated as free speech actors in elections, but they don’t want workers to have any free speech rights in the workplace.

They also embrace elaborate photo ID requirements, narrow registration laws, and endless barriers to voting for communities of color and young voters.

If a future Republican president replaces even a single liberal justice with a conservative, we could wind up with a democracy of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. Regardless of Justice Scalia’s fantasies, this is the real threat to American democracy.


Jamie Raskin is a professor of constitutional law at American University, a Maryland state senator, and a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way. He is the author of Overruling Democracy: the Supreme Court v. the American People. Distributed via OtherWords.org

America’s ‘Post-Racial’ Lie

White Americans have no right to judge the outpouring of black anger in Ferguson.

— by

Jill Richardson

Shortly before Michael Brown’s fateful encounter with Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, I was appointed as a teaching assistant in a class on race and ethnicity.

I’m white. I didn’t go to grad school to study race — I study agriculture. When it comes to race, I’m clueless.

I wish I could say that I was clueless — that I’ve since obtained a whirlwind education on race in the United States. But that’s not true. If anything, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation of my blind spots.

I probably boast a more diverse group of friends than many of the folks I grew up with. But like the majority of white people, my social networks are still almost entirely white.

I could tell you the names of every single black kid in my grade in my childhood elementary school because there weren’t that many. At the time, I thought they were having the same social and educational experience that I was.

The Prejudicial System, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

The Prejudicial System, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

I was wrong.

I recently reconnected with an African-American guy from my fourth grade class. Our teacher, he told me, was racist. “What?” I responded.

I mean, I was there. But I remember nothing. It was something I didn’t even think about as a kid.

What I do know is this: Whenever I had a run-in with a teacher — or anyone else for that matter — I never had to wonder if they treated me that way because I was white. Not so for my black classmates.

I’ve never had acquaintances come up and touch my hair as if they’re petting a dog. I’ve never had someone say something like, “You’re so cool, I don’t even consider you white!” or “You’re pretty, for a white girl.”

People of color hear statements like these all the time.

When I screw up, I don’t have to worry that I’m representing all white people and ruining things for all of us. When I get pulled over by a cop, I never wonder if it’s because I’m white.

And, what’s more, I never even have to think about this stuff. I can even claim I’m “colorblind” because we live in a “post-racial” America.

As an adult, I’m frequently shocked by how different my black friends’ experience of America is from mine. One friend told me that when she dresses in the morning, she consciously attempts to look “non-threatening” to white people.

Other friends worry about the safety of their teenage sons.

What do you do when your 13-year-old is six feet tall, and you see the police looking at him as if he might be up to something? How do you explain to your rambunctious, innocent nine-year-old that he can’t wear the hoods on his hoodies, just in case?

It’s hard to buy into the “post-racial” lie when you fear that a not-so-colorblind cop might shoot your kid.

Being white doesn’t give me a free pass in life. As a white person with a medical disability that impacts every day of my life, I struggle plenty. But my experience — any white person’s experience — of America doesn’t match what people of color experience.

If this makes you uneasy, there are a few small steps you can take to promote change.

First, admit your ignorance and withhold judgment. White folks don’t know what black folks are going through. How on earth can we judge the outpouring of anger in Ferguson right now?

True, burning down a strip mall won’t help anything. But with a legal system deeply biased against African Americans, white Americans need to understand that this anger comes from an entirely valid place — one that most whites simply don’t understand on their own.

Second, reach out. Make friends. Get to know someone who doesn’t look like you.

In fact, get to know many people who don’t look like you. Because the first step toward bridging the gap between the races in America is forging friendships.


OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. OtherWords.org

Fueling Corporate Welfare

Giving oil and gas companies royalty-free fuel is a huge waste of taxpayer and finite public resources. But, worst of all, we get nothing but the creation of perennial corporate parasites.
—by

Ryan AlexanderGetting something for nothing is a pretty sweet deal — at least if you’re the one getting something. Not so much if you’re the one receiving nothing in exchange.

Oil and gas companies are extracting gas from federal lands and paying nothing for much of it, according to a new Taxpayers for Common Sense report.

One of our most troubling findings was that gas companies drilling on federal lands have avoided paying over $380 million in royalties on the fuel they’ve extracted over the past eight years.

That’s a lot of money — and it could be a lot more, because it’s based on self-reported data provided by the oil and gas industries.

And it’s a lot of gas.

Oil Rig
swisscan/Flickr

 

By the American Natural Gas Alliance standards, the amount of royalty-free gas either consumed as fuel or lost by operators since 2006 would be enough to meet the needs of every household in New York State for a year.

Like most subsidies for the oil and gas industry, the provision that allows companies to avoid paying royalties on gas they use as fuel for their drilling rigs is decades old.

During World War II, the federal government, in search of more revenue, wanted to start charging oil and gas companies a royalty on the gas they were using as fuel on well sites.

When the industry protested, Congress rolled over. The Mineral Leasing Act was subsequently amended in 1946 — with language directly provided by industry lobbyists — to permanently exempt this fuel from royalty payments.

At the time, Congress presented the change as a way to promote public resource development. The result? Royalty-free fuel for oil and gas companies joined the growing list of financial incentives enjoyed by the most profitable industry in the world.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Department of Interior agency that administers drilling on federal lands, is considering updating the rules for what kinds of gas should incur a royalty payment. BLM should establish a reasonable limit for leaked gas, above which any emissions are considered wasted and not exempt from royalty payments.

The largest component of the lost gas is methane, which leaks from drilling rigs, storage tanks, pipelines, and outdated equipment. This leaked methane not only costs taxpayers in lost royalty revenue, but since methane is a potent greenhouse gas, it also creates climate liabilities down the road.

It costs money to replace leaky pneumatic devices and “high-bleed” compressors, and if the gas these companies are using isn’t costing them anything, there’s less incentive to pay for better equipment.

It’s been almost 70 years since Congress wrote into law the exemption for royalty payments on the gas that companies use as fuel. Maybe it was an important part of the calculation in 1946, but it’s hard to believe it plays a significant role in the decision of where and when to drill in today’s market.

Individual companies must weigh trends in the global price of gas, the location of a drilling site, its distance to the market, the type of formation where the gas is held, how much processing it will need, etc., when considering the profitability of drilling a particular well.

In other words, giving oil and gas companies royalty-free fuel is a waste of taxpayer money. And when you add up the amount of lost revenue, year after year, for all drilling on all federal lands, it comes to a significant loss for taxpayers — and a lot of extra methane for the atmosphere.

With annual budget deficits still in the half-trillion-dollar range, Uncle Sam can’t afford to keep giving freebies to perennial parasites that are some of the most profitable companies in the world.


Ryan Alexander is president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. Taxpayer.net.  Distributed via OtherWords.org

An Overdue Fix to Overtime

Businesses are blurring the distinction between hourly and salaried employees in order to bolster their bottom-line profits.
— by

Richard_KirschThere are a lot of ways that businesses are squeezing worker pay. Here’s a big one.

On the one hand, millions of Americans are stuck in low-paying part-time jobs that don’t offer them enough hours.

On the other, millions more are now routinely forced to work over 40 hours a week without getting a dime for their overtime labor. In many cases, that’s because employers are paying hourly wage workers as if they were salaried professionals.

There used to be a big distinction between hourly and salaried employees. That wasn’t by accident.

In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which forced bosses to pay workers a minimum wage and time-and-a-half for any hours worked over 40 a week. That law was key to building America’s middle class.

Only a small percentage of employees — executives, administrators, and travelling salespeople, among others — were exempt from overtime.

Working Overtime
vasilennka/Flickr

 

Yet since figuring out who was eligible for overtime proved complicated, regulators settled on one rule that trumps them all: weekly salary. By having a clear rule on salary level, it’s much harder for employers to avoid paying overtime.

In 1975, for example, employers were required to pay overtime to anyone on a salary of less than $155 a week. That covered 7 out of 10 workers.

But that salary limit hasn’t kept up with inflation or changes in the workforce. As a result, many businesses have been putting anyone with even minor “management” responsibilities on salary.

For example, a federal court found that a clerk at a Dollar General store — who worked 50 hours or more a week stocking shelves and mopping floors — could be considered a salaried “manager,” since she was responsible for minding the store.

Today, if your salary is more than $455 a week — that’s just $23,660 a year — you can be forced to work long hours without any extra pay, let alone time-and-a-half. As a result, instead of 7 of 10 workers being eligible for overtime, now it’s only 1 in 10.

Last March, President Barack Obama told the Department of Labor to modernize the regulation covering who gets overtime. “Because these regulations are outdated,” he acknowledged, “millions of Americans lack the protections of overtime and even the right to the minimum wage.”

To restore this pillar of middle-class income, regulators should once again ensure that 7 out of 10 workers are covered. That’s the best way to close the loopholes that businesses will use to cheat workers out of overtime.

To do that, the Department of Labor should set the new cap to at least $1,327 a week, or $69,000 a year. That level would do what the law was intended to do — namely, to distinguish between workers and bosses.

As a result, 10 million workers would get more money in their wallets to spend boosting the economy in their communities.

In addition to increasing the weekly salary amount, the Labor Department should modernize the rules so that the so-called “managers” at fast food restaurants, clothing outlets, and discount stores — who may be responsible for supervising their co-workers but don’t have any real executive authority — get overtime as well.

Closing the overtime loophole could also increase the earnings of millions of part-time workers. Rather than paying time-and-a-half to employees they’re currently forcing to work unpaid overtime, many businesses are likely to increase the hours worked by part-time employees who are eager to work more.

Overtime pay is key to restarting the middle-class engine of our economy. It’s past time for the Department of Labor to act.

As long as it delays, millions of workers will continue to be cheated by big businesses out of a fair share of the wealth their labor helps to create.


Richard Kirsch is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States. He’s also a senior adviser to USAction. USAction.org.  Distributed via OtherWords.org.