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No Overtime for Techies?

The bill's proponents "make it sound like people only work for four months and then they go on vacation in the Bahamas," Courtney says.

Adds Christine Owens, deputy director of the policy department at the AFL-CIO in Washington: "It's a continuation of the pattern of chipping away" or rolling back the benefits conferred under the FDR-era law.

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The computer consulting association, whose 500 or so members typically handle pay and benefits for the tech workers they place at client firms, has long favored the technical exemption, and with good reason.

The cost for wrongly calling an hourly worker a "professional" can be steep to the companies that employ them. Firms that misclassify employees can be forced to pay back overtime wages for two or three years, often for an entire category of workers. Companies also can be on the hook for lawyers' fees.

Observers say the bill is unlikely to go far on its own, but it has a fighting chance to succeed if it gets tacked on to other bills that would open up the labor-standards act for review, such as minimum-wage legislation.

Pink-Slip Partying

Ever since techies and recruiters jammed into last December's Pink Slip party in downtown Herndon, there's been talk of creating a place for the newly laid off to meet and network each month.

Word comes that a number of organizations are picking up the slack, from the Creative Network's gatherings for print and new-media types (www.justshowup.com) to an Information Technology Talent Night jointly sponsored by the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Northern Virginia Regional Partnership, slated for mid-July. Watch www.nvtc.org for more details.

Other entrepreneurs are trying to get on the boat, too, including Craig McBurney, who runs a software shop and a charter yacht business in Old Town Alexandria. McBurney says he's working out the kinks, but he expects to begin offering free rides for techies interested in throwing out a line for a new job early next month. McBurney and local tech recruiters at HireStrategy.com will ask folks to submit résumés online and be preapproved for boarding. Visit www.hirestrategy.com/cruise for information.

On the Prowl

Flustered job hunters also might drop by the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon tomorrow from 4 to 7 p.m. for a job fair sponsored by Northern Virginia Reps. Frank R. Wolf (R) and Thomas M. Davis III (R). Among the groups slated to attend are the National Science Foundation, Spectrum Systems Inc. and the Loudoun County government. For more information, check out www.house.gov/wolf.

Send tips, gripes and your impressions on punching the virtual time clock to Carrie Johnson at johnsonca@washpost.com.

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