Ellsworth creamery overtime suit goes to trial in MadisonContrary to the statements of their attorneys and General Manager Ken McMahon, the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery won’t shut down this week as the creamery defends its overtime wage practices at trial in Madison.
By Kevin Murphy
ELLSWORTH,Wis.--Contrary to the statements of their attorneys and General Manager Ken McMahon, the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery won’t shut down this week as the creamery defends its overtime wage practices at trial in Madison.
Twenty-five of the creamery’s unionized employees have alleged the creamery doesn’t pay them for the overtime hours they work. The employees contend they aren’t paid for the 10 minutes they are required to be at work and ready before punching in. The employees also contend they aren’t paid for the minutes during which they can’t leave work until their replacement is in place.
The suit, filed in July, claims the creamery’s practice of not paying overtime or for pre- and post-shift work violates the Federal Labor Standards Act and Wisconsin wage and hour regulations.
On the creamery’s request, the trial was to be held in Eau Claire on Monday before District Judge John Shabaz. However, in late January, Shabaz fell, injured his rotator cuff and will be on medical leave for at least two months.
The case was reassigned to Judge Barbara Crabb, and McMahon and the creamery’s attorneys asked the trial still be held in Eau Claire, as moving it to Madison would create a “dramatic hardship” for them.
The creamery operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, receiving 1.8 million pounds of milk daily from 512 dairy farmers. In an affidavit filed with the court, McMahon said the number of supervisors and employees scheduled as trial witnesses would cause the plant to close for the week and a “great deal of income to dairy farmers would be lost.”
However, for Crabb, whose caseload had just doubled with Shabaz on leave, an Eau Claire trial wasn’t an option, said Theresa Owens, clerk of court.
Read more in the print version of the Herald Feb. 13.