Workers at the Davis Wire mill in Kent have joined a class-action lawsuit charging their employer with denying them their statutory right to take breaks at work.
According to the complaint, which was filed in King County Superior Court on April 30, employees were “required to perform active work during the entirety of their shifts”, many of which spanned 12 hours or more, for a three-year period and “were not allowed meal periods of at least thirty minutes” during that time.
The complaint also alleges that workers were “not provided with paid ten-minute rest periods” and were required to work off-the-clock, without compensation.
In accordance with Washington State Law, workers must be allowed a paid rest period of at least 10 minutes for each four hours worked and a 30-minute meal period if five or more hours are worked.
“This is a dangerous place and there have been serious accidents here – wire punctures, forklift accidents, and several missing fingers,” said machine operator Robert Bruner, one of the employees party to the suit. “When people aren’t allowed to take their breaks, accidents are much more likely to occur.”
Davis Wire is one of four manufacturers in the Heico Wire Group. Over the past two years, four workers have been killed in industrial accidents at Heico facilities across the country.
In addition to the employees’ wage-and-hour lawsuit, Teamsters Local 117, the Union that represents the workers, has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the NLRB citing eleven separate violations by the company.
Davis Wire is accused, among other violations, of intimidating workers by sending out bogus layoff notices and threatening to close down the facility in Kent.
On February 29, the workers voted 55-1 to authorize a strike. Workers have been without a contract since December 1 of last year.
Davis Wire also operates plants in Irwindale and Pueblo, CA. Some of the company’s major customers include Home Depot, Lowe’s, and several major construction companies. Local 117 represents 85 workers at the Kent facility.