Wages and Hours
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law setting the minimum wage and standards for overtime pay. Administered by the Department of Labor, this law is far-reaching. Keep in mind, though, that when a state or local law—or, of course, your union contract—sets more favorable standards, those will govern. Workplaces must display a poster informing you of your FLSA statutory rights. The minimum wage set by federal law is only a fraction of the amount that, according to the government’s own calculations, is needed to live above the poverty level. (That’s why in dozens of jurisdictions around the country, labor-community coalitions already have succeeded in requiring that, at the local level, a “living wage” must be paid by companies that receive local government contracts, subsidies or tax breaks.) The FLSA also requires payment at one and one-half times your regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond forty in a workweek. This law doesn’t set any maximum number of hours that can be worked in a day or a week, though, or regulate holiday pay, shift differentials, or anything like that. Any such restrictions or entitlements—and the special pay provisions attached to them—will be found in your union contract.
—Adapted from The Union Member's Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer