No overtime for IT? Occupy the data center!

Lawmakers want to take away overtime pay for thousands of IT workers. What's wrong with these people?

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The motivation: Employers want to cut costs

The CPU Act is being discussed in Congress just as the jobs picture for IT workers has started to improve. With hiring on the upswing, employers want to keep costs as low as possible, and when jobs can't be outsourced, some are reluctant to provide the same level of pay and benefits they offered in the past.

Wages for most Americans have either declined or stayed flat for some time. Working overtime can be arduous, particularly when it is required, but it is an important and expected part of the income stream for many families. If overtime pay goes away, those workers in effect got their pay cut.

Because most IT workers are not members of a union (and don't seem to want unionize), it isn't clear who's fighting the bill. The AFL-CIO opposes it, but I don't know if the organization is putting real muscle into the effort. Paul E. Almeida, president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, did send a letter to Congress, saying, "The same companies that send work offshore and bring lower-paid workers to the U.S. on H-1B visas now want to pay U.S. workers less in the U.S."

He also noted in an article on the union's website that "information technology companies are focused on cutting pay for the people who work for them. If their effort succeeds, it will suggest to every other industry that the time is now to gut FLSA for every covered private-sector worker."

Almeida is right. There's a well-organized movement afoot to blame workers in both the public and private sector for a recession caused in large part by the greedy and irresponsible actions of a small minority of corporations and individuals.

At least one major antilabor law firm, is cheering the CPU Act -- and I bet there are more. The Wage & Hour Defense blog of Epstein, Becker & Green, Douglas Weiner and Meg Thering puts it this way: "Unlike much of the other legislation affecting employers that has been proposed or passed this year, the CPU Act would make business easier for employers and decrease the risk of employee misclassification lawsuits. If the proposed legislation passes, employers would be able to classify more employees as exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA. This would be a welcome change from the persistent drum beat of enhanced enforcement initiatives announced by government agencies and upticks in class and collective actions this year."

If you want to keep your overtime pay and stop this nonsense from spreading to others in the workforce, there's no better time to let your representatives know how you feel and then vote accordingly. And don't underestimate the power of protest. Earlier this year, we saw the rapacious banks scurry away from plans to impose new debit fees on users after Congress forced them to charge merchants less. Additionally, the Occupy Wall Street protests have refocused the politicians on the growing divide between corporations, whose income continues to grow, and most people, whose income has not. Maybe if IT occupied the data center, it might escape losing its overtime.

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This article, "No overtime for IT? Occupy the data center!," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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