Workers at a Shell petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania were told that if they chose not to attend a speech by President Donald Trump they had to use paid time off or forfeit pay for the day. Failing to attend the speech would have prevented workers from accumulating enough hours to get overtime. “Your attendance is not mandatory. This will be considered an excused absence. However, those who are NOT in attendance will not receive overtime pay on Friday,” according to a memo obtained by CNN “from a congressional source.” Others seem to have been a bit more direct with workers, with one supervisor reportedly writing: “NO SCAN, NO PAY,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A spokesman for Shell confirmed that not attending the speech would mean a loss of overtime pay. “It was understood some would choose not to attend the presidential visit and were given the option to take paid time off (PTO) instead. As with any workweek, if someone chooses to take PTO, they are not eligible to receive maximum overtime,” the spokesman told CNN.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was first to report the news and notes that at least some workers were told that “protesting or anything viewed as resistance” was prohibited during Trump’s speech. Shell denies that language came from the company.
Although the speech was an official White House event, the president struck a very political tone as he talked about the campaign and told workers they should kick their union leaders out of office if they didn’t support his reelection. “I’m going to speak to some of your union leaders to say, ‘I hope you’re going to support Trump.’ Okay?” Trump said. “And if they don’t, vote them the hell out of office because they’re not doing their job. It’s true. It’s true. Vote them out of office.” He also mocked some of the Democratic contenders for president.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus