AIW’s Position Piece Against Mandatory Overtime and for the Right to 40 Hours

President Obama’s recent updates to overtime rules, along with increases to the minimum wage, allow more workers to receive compensation for overtime. However, they do nothing to address the dangerous nature of overwork. Every day, workers of all types are forced to work overtime, putting ourselves and our co-workers at risk. The damage doesn’t stop there- mandatory overtime causes problems for nearly every American, including our families, those seeking employment, and consumers of the products and services being created.

Mandatory overtime means that workers cannot say no to working more than 40 hours a week. This problem is highlighted by many home care workers who have begun organizing against forced 24-hr shifts, multiple days per week. These workers, most of whom are women, frequently struggle with physical and psychological problems. As one worker says, “Our health is the most important. No money can buy it.” No pay scale is more important than the ability to control our time.

As workers, we have families and loved ones who depend on us. An injury makes the difficult job of caring for children and elderly relatives nearly impossible. It may also hinder one’s ability to work, which would threaten the family’s livelihood.

The millions of Americans currently seeking jobs would also benefit from the elimination of mandatory overtime. If workers could decline overtime, employers would need to hire additional workers. This is a sensible way to create more jobs, which our country desperately needs.

Lastly, consumers have a lot to gain from this proposed legislative change. For example, if overworked home care attendants could opt to work a normal 40-hr week when needed, they would be more alert and able to provide quality care for their patients. If workers had the right to say no to overtime, consumers of many goods and services could expect a higher quality product or service.

Home attendants, manufacturing workers and workers in many other industries are already organizing against mandatory overtime and calling for the right to a 40-hour work week. Working overtime should be a choice. We urge President Obama to stand with our fellow Americans and create legislation that will put these wrongs to a halt.

The Ain’t I a Woman!? Campaign

July 2016

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