|Yeah, stripping wages from workers. That's patriotic.|
Rep. Larry Bucshon of Evansville, Ind., got a snootful of money from the head of the company that owns Evansville, Ind.-based Professional Transportation Inc. (PTI). Bucshon wants to strip PTI's workers of their minimum wage and overtime protections. The company has already been sued for cheating workers out of their wages.
The change ... would remove wage protections for several thousand "long-haul drivers" who transport railroad crews from worksite to worksite. Many of those drivers work for roughly the minimum wage and sometimes log 60 hours a week, often driving several hundred miles at a time across state lines. The drivers are currently entitled to overtime pay but would lose it under the House bill.
Some of the firms that could benefit from the GOP provision other than PTI include RailCrew Xpress, Renzenberger and Coach America, all of which have faced employee lawsuits over alleged wage violations.
Joseph Cassell, a Wichita, Kan.-based lawyer, has successfully sued PTI and other rail transport companies for violating wage laws. He says exempting the workers from minimum-wage and overtime protections would take money out of an already meager paycheck. Drivers are compensated on a per-mile basis and the pay sometimes doesn’t even work out to minimum wage, according to Cassell.
"These drivers work their butts off," Cassell says. "All you have to have is a clean driving record and pass a drug test. In some cases, they're not even high school graduates. They need work and unfortunately they're willing to work under tough conditions and long hours ... If anybody gets overtime, it should be these people."
"Look, these companies are making money, even if they have to pay overtime," Cassell adds. "They are not hurting."Bushon is running for re-election, providing another good reason to register to vote in Indiana.