The Autocratically Flexible Workplace: A History of Overtime Regulation in the United States
M. Linder, The Autocratically Flexible Workplace: A History of Overtime Regulation in the United States, Fanpihua Press, 2002
553 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2013
Date Written: 2002
That the trend during the past two decades to weaken hours laws in Europe and Canada — in the name of creating more “flexible” workplaces that can compete more fiercely in a world economy — has been as inexorable as globalization itself suggests that pressures will mount to dilute an already weak U.S. overtime law. Such “flexibility,” one-sidedly serving firms’ needs, may, thanks to bills before Congress, eventually legalize 60-hour workweeks without premium pay. As millions of workers are being forced to work overtime without a right to refuse except at the risk of losing their jobs, this book, complementing the author’s “’Moments Are the Elements of Profit’: Overtime and the Deregulation of Working Hours Under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” expands the social and labor history of overtime regulation. It focuses on the irrationality of regulating working hours by means of overtime premiums, which encourage workers to overwork without being large enough to deter firms from requiring employees to work unlimited hours. Instead, the book re-examines maximum-hours laws, which prohibit employment beyond a set number of hours. Case studies uncover a body of state maximum-hours legislation — invalidated by judicial doctrines no longer an obstacle today — far more radical than any national labor standards. While highlighting the most recent state legislative efforts to entitle workers to refuse to work overtime, the book also documents employers’ determined opposition.
Keywords: Overtime work, overtime premiums, overwork, Fair Labor Standards Act, 8-hours laws, normal working day, maximum-hours laws
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