Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why California Manufacturers Need Flex Time

It may come as a surprise to you but in California the wage and hour laws for the manufacturing sector do not allow for flex time. We are governed by an eight hour day versus a forty hour week. I find this law so out of step with how business and personal lives work in 2011.  If a company is brave enough, here is the process they can try to go through to achieve flex time.
Currently, in order for employees to adopt an alternative workweek schedule, an employer must conduct a secret ballot election with two-thirds of employees in the work unit approving the proposal. The process is complex, and any misstep by the employer could lead to costly lawsuits.

Under current (and very detailed) Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders, employers may institute alternative work schedules only if a supermajority of affected employees agree to the arrangement in writing and by secret ballot. Employers must hold discussion meetings at least 14 days before secret ballot voting. Two-thirds of the company’s employees must agree to the change. Any deviation from the rigidly controlled process voids the election and subjects the employer to potential lawsuits that can seek up to three years of back overtime pay for affected workers, along with huge penalties and fines.

Moreover, variances in schedules or the use of more than one schedule—unless it was offered in the secret ballot election—are prohibited without repeating the voting process. This in effect eliminates most employers and employees from choosing schedule options such as compressed workweeks.

So today my HR Manager Katie Mendoza went up to Sacramento to testify in front on the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. I appreciate that the California Manufacturing and Technology Association is behind changing this law to help support manufacturing viability in our state. Below is the letter she will be presenting on my behalf.

November 14, 2011

Dear Senator Lieu, 

Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation (BWC) is a family owned manufacturing company incorporated in 1950, that in its second generation is WBENC certified woman-owned. We have made a variety of industrial products over the years and currently specialize in guide wheels and guided motion technologies. My father founded the company and I have been working for BWC since 1991.

Our product line includes quality made components and accessories, manual linear guide systems, actuated linear guide systems, and rotary guides and systems. Stainless steel, high temperature, and clean room compatible products are among Bishop-Wisecarver's more recent product introductions. Our more popular product offerings include the following trade names - DualVee®, LoPro®, UtiliTrak®, and GV3. New product development continues to be an ongoing process at the Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation, with innovative designs being introduced at regular intervals.

We have 51 employees of which 14 are part of Steel Workers of America.  We have a proud history that mixes both strong values and continuous improvement. Our commitment to quality and our customers has enabled us to achieve sustained growth with our various product lines since the beginning. We are also committed to the next generation of engineers and machinists. We are an active supporter of local STEM programs and FIRST robotics.

I value my employees and their feedback and feel it is important to ask for their feedback and implement their ideas.  At the end of 2010, I asked employees, several questions, but the one that stood out the most in regards to flexible work schedules was, “BWC would be a better place to work if…”  I received multiple responses like the ones below: 
   “The ability work 9/10 – to have every other Friday off”
   “Have more flexible hours – work 4/10’s and have Fridays off or 9/10s and have every other Friday off.” 
   “More flexibility with work time.”
   “Flex work hours or alternate schedules would be good.”
In addition, you will find a list of signatures of employees that support a flexible work schedule.  Unfortunately, due to business needs, they could not come to voice their support.

If as a company we were able to implement a flexible work schedule it would increase our productivity, employee morale and customer satisfaction.  I am a firm believer in providing exemplary customer service and being the customer’s first choice.  With this change, it would boost the morale of my workforce enabling them to provide even better customer service.

I truly thank you for your time and consideration of this important decision.  Unfortunately, due to business travel I am unable to attend, but my HR Manager, Katie Mendoza will be there to represent Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation and the employees.

If you need any additional information or you would like to meet or speak at a later date, I would be happy to help in any way possible.

Warmest Regards,

Pamela Kan
Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation
cc:           Senator Mark Wyland (Vice Chair)
                Senator Mark DeSaulnier
                Senator Mark Leno
                Senator Alex Padilla
                Senator Sharon Runner
                Senator Leland Yee

1 comment:

  1. Nice One.

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