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Local 893 Gets
Back Pay Award
Totaling $300,000


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 United Professionals.

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 federal law.

The State agreed to begin paying overtime to employees in the Social Worker III classification, but this time refused to pay back wages.


"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 attorneys said.

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

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