GARY, Ind. (AP) —
A group of Indiana steelworkers is disappointed that the U.S. Supreme
Court has ruled against an attempt to win pay for the time it takes to put
on and take off protective gear.
The lawsuit was
filed by workers from U.S. Steel's Gary Works, arguing their workday was
extended by up to two hours because of the time it takes to get dressed
with flame-retardant jackets and pants and other items and then travel
from the locker room to their work stations at the sprawling mill along
The Supreme Court
was unanimous Monday in ruling in favor of the company.
U.S. Steel said
in a statement that the workers only needed a brief amount of time to put
on and remove the protective gear.
decades, U.S. Steel has appropriately and constructively addressed these
matters in our collective bargaining process and this decision reaffirms
the validity of that approach," the company said.
One of the
plaintiffs, retired steelworker Herbert Harris, of Gary, said he was
disappointed with the ruling by the court, which heard arguments in the
case last fall after a federal appeals court also sided with U.S. Steel.
surprise me," Harris told The Times of Munster. "Big money is big money.
The system is the system. We were just hoping and praying for justice."
Scalia wrote for the court that the labor agreement between the company
and the workers' union says the employees don't get paid for time spent
Scalia said most
of the items count as clothing and while earplugs, glasses and respirators
are not clothing, they take little time to put on.
other fields get paid for any time spent getting dressed and undressed at
their workplace, but a 1938 federal law exempts time spent changing
clothes if it is conceded in a collective bargaining agreement. The union
that represents 4,500 workers at Gary Works has made that concession for
more than six decades.
Aaron Maduff, who represented the workers, said the contract provision was
negotiated back when workers wore far less protective gear.
"It's not like me
putting on a suit and tie in the morning," he said.