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Piece meal work question(s)... California California

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  • Piece meal work question(s)... California California

    Hello all,
    I have a couple of questions pertaining to my job as a mechanic in a 'piece work' shop.

    -We are not as busy as we used to be and a lot of the technicians (about 20 of us in the shop) run out of work during the regularly scheduled work day. In the past, we would wait around for the remainder of the day for the occasional oil change or leak car to stroll in. As of today, we are to 'punch off the timeclock' (even though we are 'piece work' employees) for 'liability' reasons, even if we run out of work early in the day, say 9am or 10am. The catch is, we are expected to stay and wait, off the clock, until noon, at which point we may leave (we start at 7am). An old co-worker chuckled and said, "...nice way to avoid paying overtime". Is this true? If it's relevant, we are all working an 'alternative work schedule' of 4, 10 hour days per week. His theory was that if we were 'on the clock' for more than 4 hours a day, even if no 'piece meal' work came in, we would be entitled to a 'minimum wage' type of compensation. Any truth to that?

    -The second change is scheduled to hit soon, or so I'm told. We are going to be presented with a productivity 'agreement', where we will be asked to sign a letter stating that for every hour we are on the clock, we will produce 120% in 'hours sold' for the shop. For example, if we work a 10 hour shift, we will be committed to producing 12 hours of 'sold hours' for the company. Kind of weird, but everything we do is based on the concept of 'sold hours'. If a car comes in with an oil leak, the technician might 'sell' a 2 hour gasket repair @ $125/hr, to the customer. The expectation is that we would complete the job at least 20% faster than the time we quoted the customer to repair the leak. I know they're a private business and can probably do whatever they want, but can they fire me for not agreeing to sign the form, promising to 'sell' 20% more hours than I work? What's to keep them from saying 30%, or 100%, or more for that matter? There comes a point where, in my opinion, they are asking us to sell 'easy' or worse, unnecessary work to keep the 'sold hour' productivity level high. I hope that makes sense. I know times are tough and I realize they've got to try to get the most out of each technician, but I'm troubled by the thought of signing a form promising to 'sell' more repairs than I can actually perform competently in my shift. Not to mention we don't have many customers to sell to, nowadays (see above). I guess I can always quit, but I love what I do and I love our customers. Seems dirty to me, but I'd imagine not illegal...any thoughts?

    Anyways, I appreciate this resource. Obviously I have a lot of reading to do here... Any assistance would be greatly appreciated

  • #2
    1. The "clock" is legally meaningless. If you are being required to stay on the premises, it is legally hours worked under federal and CA rules.
    http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs22.pdf

    2. I am uncomfortable commenting on the legality of pieces of paper that I have not read. Firing you for failing to meet production objections is legal. Firing you for failing to sign a piece of paper is probably legal. The key is the assumption that the piece of paper actually means something. Maybe yes, maybe no. There is no chance what-so-ever that signing the piece of paper can override statutory labor law imposed on the parties by the government. Namely the minimum wage and overtime rules. Hours worked is whatever the government says it is, not what the clock says it is. Minimum wage and overtime requirements are a function of government rules, not the piece of paper. If I was the one that wrote your piece of paper, it would be legal because I would be very careful to not include anything illegal on it.

    3. Ignore the piece of paper for the moment (the courts probably will as well). Focus on what are the statutory legal requirements. You must be paid MW on all hours worked (as determined by the government, not your employer). This might be $8/hr, or if the tool specific rule is in place, it might be $16/hr. And you must be paid OT under the CA rules. The Auto Dealer exception might be in effect under the federal rules, but that is not an exception supported under CA rules.
    http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_OvertimeExemptions.htm

    4. AWS is a possibility in CA. You can verify that here.
    http://www.dir.ca.gov/databases/dlsr/DLSR-AWE.html
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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