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Roby and Obama proposals go head-to-head as Parties court working class voters

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2)
Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2) and President Barack Obama on Thursday summed up the differences in Republican and Democratic efforts to reach working class voters by offering contrasting proposals.

Roby announced plans to re-introduce the Working Families Flexibility Act, a bill that would allow private-sector workers to receive paid time off or “comp time” for overtime hours worked.

For nearly thirty years, public-sector workers have been able to receive comp time for working overtime hours. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 prevents private-sector workers from enjoying the same benefit.

Under Roby’s bill, employers and employees could both voluntarily enter into an agreement, which she says would remove a layer of government intrusion into the their lives. It retains all existing employee protections in current law, including the 40 hour work week and how overtime compensation is accrued.

“Talk to just about any working mom and dad and they’ll tell you they need more time,” Roby said. “They need just one more hour in the day to be able to take care of responsibilities and make life work. We can’t legislate another hour in the day, but we can help working Americans better balance their time by removing unnecessary federal restrictions on ‘comp time’ in the private sector.”

Also on Thursday, President Obama took the first of three planned steps to mandate expanded paid leave for American workers.

The President issued an executive memo ordering federal government agencies to give six weeks of paid leave to their employees upon the birth of a child. USA Today reported that he will also “ask Congress to pass a law requiring companies to give paid sick leave to many part-time workers, and will propose $2.2 billion in grants to states and cities to implement their own policies.”

Roby said she disagrees with the President’s approach of “increasing regulations on the workplace.”

“We need to get Washington out of the way of how people use their time,” she said. “Employers are drowning in enough red tape as it is, and workers have seen their hours reduced thanks to this Administration’s attempt to dictate how the workplace operates.

“The Working Families Flexibility Act is a realistic approach to offering employees more choices with their time at work and more balance with the demands of family life. ‘Comp time’ allows employers and employees to work together to see what fits, rather than having the federal government decide for them.”

The House passed the Working Families Flexibility Act in May 2013. A Senate companion bill was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) but failed to receive consideration from the Democratic Majority.

Roby and Lee are working to re-introduce the proposal as soon as next week, hoping Republican majorities in both the House and Senate will help its prospects.