Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bush Administration Goes After Family And Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed by Bill Clinton in 1993 – against heavy Republican opposition -- and stands as one of the most popular pieces of legislation in the last 25 years. Millions of Americans have benefited from the ability to take time off from work to care for a sick relative or due to their own illness, without fear of losing their job.

Now, according to a recent USA Today story, it looks like the Bush crew is going to take a shot at watering down this important law.

Specifically, they are targeting the provisions that allow workers to take unpaid time off incrementally, in one or two day chunks, as necessary for things like doctor's appointments and short hospital stays.

Even though all time off under FMLA is without pay, corporate types are claiming that the law hurts profits and, of course, the Bush administration is eager to side with them. The Labor Department has been looking at ways to change the law (to provide less rights to workers) since 2002.

And you would never know that Corporate America has a reason to be so concerned given that, since 2001, profits for large companies have been going up while wages have declined. (See graph, courtesy of St. Louis Federal Reserve.)

Are you listening, middle class folks? Stay tuned....