Friday, March 21, 2014

Trouble in Workers’ Paradise

Trouble in Workers’ Paradise
Management Not Paying Workers on the Clock?
Workers Not Paid for Goofing Off?

By Michael Horowitz

BRONX NEWS, MARCH 21- The Riverbay Corporation, in a telling “fact sheet” officials distributed to shareholders said that it is perfectly legal for Riverbay to give workers “the choice” of getting compensating time in lieu of overtime pay.

In their fact sheet, Riverbay states that the compensating time is allowed under the collective-bargaining agreements that Co-op City has with several of its unions.

In its statement, Riverbay notes that no union has ever filed a grievance challenging the compensating-time option, which attorneys for workers suing Co-op City say is a clear violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as New York State laws on the same subject. 

“Honoring the employee’s choice of compensating time is not `cheating” the employee,” Riverbay stressed, in its prepared fact sheet.

Brett Gallaway, who represents more than 100 current and former Co-op City employees who have joined the suit against Riverbay, has stated, unequivocally, that no collective-bargaining agreement can “trump” federal and state laws that protect hourly employees against abuses by private employers.

Gallaway has stated that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act has protected hourly employees against abuses by employers since the 1930’s. 

The only exception, Gallaway has stressed, applies to government employees. Federal law gives governmental entities the option of giving hourly employees compensating time in lieu of overtime pay.
Co-op City is seemingly different from every other workplace. 

“Time worked is not based on punch time (the time clock),” the Riverbay Crop[oration stated in a “fact sheet” that management officials disseminated a townhall meeting in the auditorium of the Dreiser Loop Community Center.

Management’s startling admission could make it extremely difficult for the Riverbay Corporation to defend itself against a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Co-op City that more than 100 current and former workers have reportedly joined.

Responding to a lawsuit alleging that Riverbay has been “cheating workers,” the fact sheet, in effect, alleges that Co-op City’s workers routinely cheat the housing company.

In its statement challenging accounts in the News, management states that those suing Co-op City seem to expect to be paid for time they spend socializing with one another, having breakfast, and otherwise not working.

A businessman, who wished to remain unidentified, stressed, this week, “It is up to the management of Co-op City to monitor their employees’ behavior. The management of Co-op City seems to be saying that pay is being routinely deducted from workers’ pay because everyone knows that workers routinely goof off on their jobs. That’s a helluva statement to make unless you can prove it. In the workplace, the time clock is God. It governs what workers are to be paid. That’s the law!”

In its telling statement on overtime pay for its workers, management stated, in part, “Time worked is not based on punch time; it is based on time actually performing work the employer permits the employee to perform. When some employees arrive before their scheduled shift, they punch in and then socialize, are on their cell phone or I-pad, go to the store to get breakfast, and otherwise are not performing work.”

The Riverbay statement continues, “Federal law only requires employers to pay overtime for work performed in excess of 40 hours. Riverbay pays overtime if an employee works more than 40 hours in a week or earns overtime under the employee’s collective-bargaining agreement. The Co-op City workers are not being cheated out of overtime, and Riverbay is aware of no employer filing an overtime grievance with their union representative.”

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