Good Fruit Grower Quotes Adam Belzberg on Grower Options in Washington State Piece-rate Break Pay Case

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Stoel Rives attorney Adam Belzberg was quoted in Good Fruit Grower magazine in two articles titled “Millions of dollars at stake in piece-rate case” and “For growers, what now?” The articles discuss the potential business impact of a pending Washington Supreme Court decision that will decide whether piece-rate agricultural workers are entitled to be paid separately for breaks and, if so, how the extra pay would be calculated. Piece-rate pickers are paid a fixed price per unit of product they harvest.

The case involves a suit brought against Sakuma Brothers Farms, which is represented by Belzberg, that argued the company did not comply with Washington state and federal wage and hour laws. The case was settled in part, but the plaintiffs’ lawyers chose to litigate the break pay issue.

Belzberg said growers have several options to address the question of pay for breaks for piece-rate workers before the Supreme Court issues its ruling. One approach would be to pay the workers an  additional $3.16 per day—20 minutes at the Washington minimum wage—though Belzberg says once they begin doing that, it would have a negative effect on worker morale if they took it away. “Once you do it, you’re locked in,” he noted.

Read “Millions of dollars at stake in piece-rate case” and “For growers, what now?,” published March 15, 2015. (Subscription required.)

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