Saturday, October 22, 2005

Enzi Tries To Kill Minimum Wage, Weaken OSHA At The Same Time

Those of you who follow these issues may have noticed that a minimum wage increase was again defeated last week, thanks to our compassionately conservative Republican friends in the Senate.

Part of the reason the bill went down was that "helpful" Republicans added "poison pill" language to the bill, ensuring that no Democrat would vote for it. Senatory Mike Enzi of Wyoming added the main killer amendment, the Small Business Fair Labor Standards Act Exemption, which read in part:
In the case of a first-time violation by a small business concern of a requirement regarding the collection of information by an agency, the head of such agency shall provide that no civil fine shall be imposed on the small business concern
As Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute explains:
The Enzi amendment excuses millions of employers from paying fines for violations of federal safety and health, pension, and labor regulations. First violations of "information collection requirements" - even if knowing and willful - will be excused for the more than 5 million businesses with revenues under $7 million a year. Information collection requirements include a broad class of notices and postings required in order to inform and protect employees, such as hazardous material warnings, training requirements, and information about pension and health benefit plans.