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Bob Larson Piece Rate Vs Hourly Farm Labor Pt 1
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: October 02, 2017

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With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. Washington growers who pay workers piece-rate compensation are waiting for the state Supreme Court’s decision in a lawsuit against Dovex Fruit Company arguing they should also be paid for non-picking work time, and if so, at what rate.

The Washington Policy Center’s Madi Clark says this decision could totally disrupt Ag’s longstanding pay system …

MADI CLARK … “We would be in a situation where piece-rate would be impossible to pay because how do you time it of this is a production tasks and these are non-production tasks? It would just become so myopic and narrow minded of the ability of trying to define a line that it would just be easier for farmers to pay an hourly rate. But, we know that piece-rate pay is good for the farmer and it’s also good for the worker because their production goes up, which helps the farmer, but their pay goes up as well, which helps them. And, they make a lot more money on a piece-rate versus an hourly system.”

Clark says this case is trying to take the Sakuma decision from two years ago, which requires employers to pay piece-rate workers for break times, one step further …

MADI CLARK … “And, so the lawyers, when they argued the case that’s what they relied heavily on, of saying, well if we’re paying separately for break time and we’re calculating that separately so you can also calculate separately any time that is non-production time. But, that’s when you get in, kind of, the mess of, well what’s non-production time.”

Clark says most workers prefer piece-rate pay because they can earn a wage that works out to better than the state minimum hourly wage of $11 per hour. Listen tomorrow when we hear what SHOULD happen instead of a court ruling.

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