Corporate swine go after women’s overtime pay

Greedy pigs that they are, the Bush administration and its corporate backers can’t help but look at the hard-earned wages of America’s workers as a giant trough for them to feed at. Overtime earnings are a delectable morsel they want to chow down on, thus the Bush administration’s relentless campaign to change federal laws that guarantee workers time-and-a-half pay after 40 hours.

But working families weren’t taking it lying down. In recent months the White House has been inundated with over 1.5 million messages of protest. Unable to ignore the deluge of e-mails, faxes, and letters, the pigs took a brief roll in the mud, regrouped and this week enacted their repackaged proposal.

Since the protests had focused on the injustice of denying overtime pay to high profile “first-responder” professions like police, firefighters and military vets, revised regulations “protect” these categories, but target low- and middle-income white collar and pink collar jobs like accounting, insurance, advertising, journalism and financial services.

With employers freed from any obligation to pay time and a half, the hours of these workers – mostly female – will undoubtedly skyrocket, even as their paychecks plummet. For workers who get overtime pay, losing eligibility would result in an average of $256 a week cut in pay, a devastating blow. For kids who need time with their moms, the under-compensated hours away from home are inhuman.

Now the pressure must focus on Congress to pass the amendment offered by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) barring the president from making any changes to overtime regulations. Overtime pay is a family issue and a human rights issue. It’s time to put people before profit-hungry pigs.

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Close Bush’s ‘No Law Zone’

Attorney John J. Gibbons, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court April 20 on behalf of 16 detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, accused the Bush-Cheney administration of attempting to create a “no law zone … a lawless enclave, insulating the executive branch from any judicial scrutiny now or in the future.”

This is the first time the Supreme Court has heard appeals from any of the 600 Guantanamo prisoners, mostly Afghan and Pakistani Muslim men, held incommunicado for two years without criminal charges or legal representation under conditions that have been described as horrible, bordering on torture.

Solicitor General Ted Olson told the justices that the detainees have no habeas corpus rights since they are being held on Cuban territory outside U.S. jurisdiction. This was a naked assertion of the administration’s prerogative to set up an offshore concentration camp, just as U.S. corporations set up “offshore havens” to escape U.S. laws and taxation.

Gibbons retorted that the Guantanamo base “is under complete United States control and has been for a century.” Only Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia defended Olson’s line. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “It seems rather contrary to an idea of a Constitution with three branches that the executive would be free to do whatever they want … without a check.”

We would argue that the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp is also a brazen violation of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Both uphold the right of the accused to the presumption of innocence and the right to due process.

Two American citizens, Yaser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla, are being held in the U.S. as “enemy combatants” under conditions no better than at Guantanamo. This shows that the Bush-Cheney gang would like to turn the entire U.S. into a “No Law Zone.” These prisoners should be released immediately and the U.S. should vacate Guantanamo Bay, returning it to its rightful owners, the people of Cuba.

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