614 F.3d 427 (7th Cir. 2010), 09-2691, Spoerle v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc.

Docket Nº:09-2691.
Citation:614 F.3d 427
Opinion Judge:EASTERBROOK, Chief Judge.
Party Name:Jeff SPOERLE, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL, INC., Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Heather L. Curnutt (argued), Attorney, Lawton & Cates, Madison, WI, Douglas J. Phebus, Attorney, Arellano & Phebus, Middleton, WI, for Plaintiffs-Appellees. Daniel A. Kaplan, Attorney, William M. Conley (argued), Foley & Lardner LLP, Madison, WI, for Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:Before EASTERBROOK, Chief Judge, and MANION and EVANS, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 02, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 427

614 F.3d 427 (7th Cir. 2010)

Jeff SPOERLE, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL, INC., Defendant-Appellant.

No. 09-2691.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

August 2, 2010

Argued Dec. 3, 2009.

Page 428

Heather L. Curnutt (argued), Attorney, Lawton & Cates, Madison, WI, Douglas J. Phebus, Attorney, Arellano & Phebus, Middleton, WI, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Daniel A. Kaplan, Attorney, William M. Conley (argued), Foley & Lardner LLP, Madison, WI, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before EASTERBROOK, Chief Judge, and MANION and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

EASTERBROOK, Chief Judge.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay workers for time spent donning and doffing " integral and indispensable" safety gear. See IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U.S. 21, 126 S.Ct. 514, 163 L.Ed.2d 288 (2005); 29 U.S.C. § 254. It also allows labor and management to vary this rule through collective bargaining:

Hours Worked.-In determining for the purposes of sections 206 and 207 of this title the hours for which an employee is employed, there shall be excluded any time spent in changing clothes or washing at the beginning or end of each workday which was excluded from measured working time during the week involved by the express terms of or by custom or practice under a bona fide collective-bargaining agreement applicable to the particular employee.

29 U.S.C. § 203( o ). This appeal presents the question whether § 203( o ) preempts state law that lacks an equivalent exception.

Kraft Foods requires the employees who prepare meat products at its Oscar Mayer plant in Madison, Wisconsin, to wear safety gear, such as steel-toed boots and hard hats, plus a smock that keeps other garments clean. Workers must wear hair nets and beard nets to protect the food from dandruff and other contaminants. It takes each worker a few minutes at the start of every day to put these items on, and a few more at day's end to take them off. Kraft Foods and Local 538 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union have agreed that this time is not compensable. Section 203( o ) permits unions and management to trade off the number of compensable hours against the wage rate; the workers get more, per hour, in exchange for agreeing to exclude some time from the base.

The plaintiffs in this suit disagree with the tradeoff struck in the collective bargaining agreement and want the time included-and at the higher hourly rate that the union obtained by agreeing to...

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