Local 893 Gets
Back Pay Award
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa
Union persistence in making the boss do the right thing will
result in more than 100 State of Iowa employees in the Social Worker III
classification share in a settlement totaling in excess of $300,000. The
settlement represents a second overtime payment victory for UE Local 893, Iowa
The State had failed to pay the Social Worker IIIs time and
one-half after 40 hours, and when informed that it had violated the federal
Fair Labor Standards Act, refused to pay workers the back pay owed.
The case began several years ago when Field Org. Sylvia
Kelley persuaded the Labor Dept. to investigate the State’s failure to
pay overtime to employees in the Social Worker II category. After a lengthy
investigation, the Labor Dept. concluded that the State had improperly failed
to pay the social workers time and one-half after 40 hours. Employees in the
Social Worker II classification received two years of back pay, the most
permissible under law.
The union then asked the Labor Dept. to investigate the State’s
failure to pay time and one-half to employees in the similar Social Worker III
classification. After another lengthy delay, the Labor Dept. concluded that
the Social Worker IIIs were also not exempt from overtime requirements under
The State agreed to begin paying overtime to employees in the
Social Worker III classification, but this time refused to pay back wages.
SUPREME COURT CASE
"Sounds like it would be a simple case," says
attorney Matthew Glasson. "It wasn’t!" In the meantime, an
increasingly conservative U.S. Supreme Court had resurrected an essentially
dead legal doctrine to rule against Maine state employees attempting to
collect back pay from their employer. The State of Iowa filed a motion to
dismiss the UE back-pay lawsuit, citing the Supreme Court decision.
Acting on behalf of Local 893, attorneys Glasson and Nancy
Combs argued that the UE lawsuit differed from the case heard by the
Supreme Court in a couple of significant points. In particular, Iowa had
consented to being sued in the state’s Wage Payment Collection Act, the
On March 30, 1999, Judge William L. Thomas rejected the
State’s arguments and denied motion to dismiss.
"A funny thing happened on our way to the Dec. 16, 1999
court date for our lawsuit for back pay," Local 893 Pres. Dan Kelley
reported to his membership. "The State called up and surrendered."
Kelley observed that as a result of Judge Thomas’s decision,
"the Attorney General was faced with the prospect of arguing management’s
position in court. While I’m not an attorney, I’ve read management’s
position and quite frankly, it was laughable."
In the settlement the State agreed to pay the full amount of
overtime for two years prior to May 1, 1998. Individual payments will range
from a few dollars to upwards to $6,000.
Although the settlement was still awaiting court approval as
the UE NEWS went to press, Local 893 expected checks to mailed within
the next two months.
UE News - 01/00