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Bob Larson Piece Rate Vs Hourly Farm Labor Pt 2
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: October 03, 2017

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With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. Growers across the state are waiting to hear how the Supreme Court will rule in a case that could force them to pay piece-rate workers additional pay for non-production time spent on the job.

The Washington Policy Center’s Madi Clark says breaking down every minute of every employee’s day would be too complicated and inefficient to be practical …

MADI CLARK … “If you were to clock your day, every single day, and had to group it into two categories of, at this point I’m doing production work and at this point I’m not doing production work, I’m waiting for a truck, moving to the next orchard, I’m moving bins, that’s not production. And, how would you separate that out, because that could change minute by minute? So, in a one hour period you could go back and forth ten times and how would you clock the five minutes here or the 15 minutes there, all adds up to 60 minutes in one hour and you have to pay that separately.”

Clark says attorneys for the defendants Dovex made a great argument that this should be a matter for the legislature …

MADI CLARK … “Looking at it and because it’s so complicated, that makes sense. If we want to change the way we do piece-rate work in Washington state, that should become a legislative process not something the court decides because they are obeying the law as it reads. They’re paying minimum wage. Every hour worked is getting paid at least minimum wage or above. So, that’s where the agriculture community is kind of concerned, of where are you going to come in? Are you going to make law that you shouldn’t or are you going to interpret the law as it already reads?”

Clark says no decision has been announced, but expects the court to come to some kind of conclusion very soon. She says this is another slight against workers from so-called labor advocates.

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