Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/16/2003 03:20 PM House L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 255-WAGES:TRAINING/FLEX-TIME/DEFINITIONS                                                                                   
Number 2063                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ANDERSON announced  that the final order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL NO. 255, "An  Act amending the Alaska Wage and Hour                                                               
Act as it  relates to flexible work hour plans,  the provision of                                                               
training  wages,  and  the  definitions  of  certain  terms;  and                                                               
repealing the  exemption in the  Act from the payment  of minimum                                                               
wages for learners."                                                                                                            
The committee took a brief at-ease from 4:18 to 4:20 p.m.                                                                       
Number 1992                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG moved to adopt Amendment 1 which read:                                                                  
     Page 2, Line 4:                                                                                                            
          Delete:  "solely"                                                                                                     
     Page 3, Line 16 and 17:                                                                                                    
          Keep in statute:                                                                                                      
         "and the written agreement has been filed with                                                                         
          the  department"                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN objected for purposes of discussion.                                                                        
Number 1963                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   ROKEBERG  explained   that  removing   the  word                                                               
"solely"  on page  2, line  4, helped  clarify the  definition of                                                               
supervisory capacity.  He addressed  the other change, on page 3,                                                               
lines  16-17.    The  amendment restores  the  current  statutory                                                               
language,  "and the  written agreement  has been  filed with  the                                                               
department", which was mistakenly removed,  he said.  He reviewed                                                               
the  affect of  the amendment:   after  an employer  and employee                                                               
agree to  a voluntary  flexible work  hour plan,  a copy  must be                                                               
filed with the  department [of Labor &  Workforce Development] so                                                               
[department staff] can audit it.                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON  reminded  committee   members  that  this  is  a                                                               
technical amendment.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  explained that the flex-time  plan needs                                                               
to be filed with the department;  [removing it from the bill] was                                                               
an oversight on his part.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG asked  about  the  impact of  deleting                                                               
"solely" from  the language [about supervisory  capacity] on page                                                               
Number 1904                                                                                                                     
HEATHER NOBREGA, Staff to  Representative Norman Rokeberg, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature, explained  that there was a  request to delete                                                               
"solely" so that  the work of supervisory employees  would not be                                                               
limited   to   assigning   and  directing   the   activities   of                                                               
subordinates.   She said  that removing  the word  "solely" gives                                                               
the [employer] more flexibility in  the duties the supervisor can                                                               
CHAIR ANDERSON explained that the  assigning and directing duties                                                               
would no longer be all-inclusive,  whereas solely makes them all-                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG said  that the  amendment speaks  to the                                                               
allocation of  a supervisor's time between  supervisory and other                                                               
duties.   The word  solely implies only  supervisory duties.   He                                                               
said as written, the current statutory wording is too tight.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GATTO   suggested    [substituting]   the   word                                                               
"primarily" for "solely."                                                                                                       
Number 1835                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN removed his objection to Amendment 1.                                                                       
CHAIR ANDERSON  confirmed that Representative Guttenberg  did not                                                               
object  to  the amendment.    There  being no  other  objections,                                                               
Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                                        
Number 1777                                                                                                                     
DON ETHERIDGE, Lobbyist for Alaska  State AFL-CIO, testified that                                                               
his group  opposes the entire  bill, even  with Amendment 1.   He                                                               
spoke  against  removing  the   department's  [approval]  of  the                                                               
voluntary flexible-hour  work plan.   He  said [simply]  filing a                                                               
piece of paper  with the department doesn't give  an employee the                                                               
backbone to  stand up against  an employer who might  say, "Here,                                                               
sign this if  you want the job,"  or, "If you don't  want this to                                                               
be your  last day, here,  sign this piece  of paper."   He stated                                                               
that there are unscrupulous employers who would do such a thing.                                                                
MR.  ETHERIDGE also  opposed  the training  wage  portion of  the                                                               
bill.   He  said  this  provision fleeces  working  kids who  are                                                               
trying to make  money for school or  to buy their own  cars.  The                                                               
30 hours  a week allowed  by the  current statute is  already too                                                               
much.  "To push  [those 30 hours] to a full-time  job -- we don't                                                               
believe in it,"  he said.  Union apprentices start  at $13 or $14                                                               
an hour;  he said  that they need  to make a  decent living.   He                                                               
predicted  that  a young  person  with  a  90-day summer  job  at                                                               
training wages  would wind up  working the next year  for another                                                               
employer at  $5.15 for another 90  days.  If young  workers don't                                                               
go back to  the same employer, they could end  up working forever                                                               
at  $5.15  an  hour,  he   cautioned.    He  concluded  that  his                                                               
organization is totally opposed to HB 255.                                                                                      
Number 1648                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ANDERSON asked  what happens when a young  person works for                                                               
a new employer after receiving training wages at a previous job.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  said that once  a young person  has some                                                               
experience, the  person doesn't need  to be trained [again].   He                                                               
said there is so much  demand for experienced, hard-working young                                                               
people, that the [teenager] would  [easily] find work at a higher                                                               
wage.  He said  he doesn't think kids are going  to be fleeced in                                                               
the current labor market.   This bill provides an opportunity for                                                               
more  jobs for  young  people.   He said  that  the 30-hour  rule                                                               
doesn't change  [under HB  255].  There  has been  testimony that                                                               
it's  difficult  for  employers  to use  [the  30-hour  per  week                                                               
maximum for  training wages] because of  paperwork and accounting                                                               
problems.   This [bill]  provides for a  longer [work]  period of                                                               
[40 hours per week].                                                                                                            
Number 1540                                                                                                                     
MR. ETHERIDGE  stated that  grocery stores hire  lots of  kids at                                                               
training  wages for  30-hour  weeks.   They  box [groceries]  and                                                               
stock [the  shelves].  He  disagreed that it's that  difficult to                                                               
track a young person's time for the 30-hour [limit].                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  said  he's not  repealing  the  30-hour                                                               
provision in [regulations]; it's still there.                                                                                   
MR. ETHERIDGE  countered that  the 30-hour  [work week]  is being                                                               
expanded to 40 hours, which he opposes.                                                                                         
Number 1502                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  asked how the 90  consecutive calendar                                                               
days, on page 5, [line 5,] is calculated.                                                                                       
MR. ETHERIDGE agreed that calculation  of the 90 consecutive days                                                               
is another concern.  He asked  if a young worker misses some time                                                               
or  gets laid  off, does  the  90 consecutive  day [clock]  start                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO said  he interprets  the  language to  mean                                                               
that 90  days after the young  person starts work, the  worker no                                                               
longer qualifies  for the [training  wage].  He asked  what other                                                               
interpretation of this provision is possible.                                                                                   
MR. ETHERIDGE gave the example  of problems currently experienced                                                               
by  some  of  the  state  [workers].    They  have  to  work  195                                                               
consecutive days to get  bumped up.  He said that  if they miss a                                                               
day at work,  their supervisors [reset the 195-day  clock].  That                                                               
practice is  going on  right now,  he said,  and that's  why he's                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG asked  if people  covered by  collective                                                               
bargaining  are exempt  from the  Alaska  Wage and  Hour Act  and                                                               
these provisions.                                                                                                               
MR. ETHERIDGE said that collective  bargaining can exempt some of                                                               
the  [provisions  of  state  law].    But  collective  bargaining                                                               
agreements can't  exempt the  payment of  minimum wage  and can't                                                               
exempt working over 10-hour days, he said.                                                                                      
Number 1364                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   ROKEBERG  stated   that  collective   bargaining                                                               
workers are  exempt under the  current Alaska Wage and  Hour Act.                                                               
He  said  they  are  governed   by  their  collective  bargaining                                                               
agreement, not the statute.                                                                                                     
Number 1354                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD pointed to  subparagraph (14)(B), page 3,                                                               
lines 18-25,  and said that  this language limits  ironworkers to                                                               
the  "four-tens"  workweek   under  their  collective  bargaining                                                               
agreements.   He  said the  "four-tens" [represents  the maximum]                                                               
flexibility before overtime [provisions take effect].                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG   explained  that   it's  part   of  the                                                               
bargaining agreement.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  replied that  no, [this  requirement] is                                                               
not part  of the  bargaining agreement;  it is  in statute.   The                                                               
"four-ten"  workweek is  the only  flexible schedule  ironworkers                                                               
can  use,  other   than  the  five-day,  8-hour   week.    [Union                                                               
employees]  are  not exempt  from  the  statute.   He  said,  for                                                               
example,  that  ironworkers can't  work  [a  week consisting  of]                                                               
three 12-hour days and a 4-hour day.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said, "You make my case."                                                                               
Number 1295                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  asked  Representative  Rokeberg  if  he                                                               
intends to  delete this part of  the law so that  jobs outside of                                                               
collective bargaining  can have  any work  schedule agreed  to by                                                               
the employer  and the employee.   He  said he can  support "four-                                                               
tens" but not just any schedule that an employer wants.                                                                         
Number 1274                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG asked  Mr.  Etheridge if  subparagraph                                                               
(14)(B) [were removed  from state law], could  [an employer] work                                                               
someone two twenty-hour ("two-twenties") days.                                                                                  
MR.  ETHERIDGE agreed.   [An  employer] could  work the  employee                                                               
back-to-back  weeks and  get 40  hours in  four days,  if it  was                                                               
timed just right.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG described a  theoretical situation at a                                                               
cannery, in  which the employer worked  the staff "two-twenties,"                                                               
charged  them room  and board,  resulting in  pay lower  than the                                                               
minimum wage.   He said  the employee  could owe the  employer at                                                               
the end of the week.                                                                                                            
Number 1229                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG asked  about organized  labor's position                                                               
on working parents and their need for flexible work time.                                                                       
MR.  ETHERIDGE  stated  that his  group  supports  every  working                                                               
person and does  what they think is best for  all of those folks.                                                               
If several people  need a specific [schedule]  change, it doesn't                                                               
mean  that the  whole contract  is changed  to accommodate  them.                                                               
One of the  main rules in negotiations is looking  at the good of                                                               
the [whole group], not just the good of the few.                                                                                
Number 1167                                                                                                                     
CHIP WAGONER, Lobbyist for  Alaska Catholic Conference, explained                                                               
that  the conference  is the  voice of  the three  Roman Catholic                                                               
Bishops  of  Alaska,  who  represent  55,000  Alaskans,  and  100                                                               
parishes  and  missions.    He noted  that  the  Catholic  Church                                                               
nationally has been an advocate  for the minimum wage since 1919,                                                               
fully  two  decades before  the  federal  law  was passed.    Mr.                                                               
Wagoner explained  that Catholic  social teaching flows  from the                                                               
Bible  and the  Gospels,  and  he quoted  Jesus  as saying,  "The                                                               
Spirit ... has  sent me to bring  glad tidings to the  poor."  He                                                               
emphasized that work has dignity and  is a way for people to meet                                                               
their community  obligations and their  material needs.   He said                                                               
in order for a  person to have a dignity of  life, they must have                                                               
a living  wage sufficient to  provide adequate  housing, shelter,                                                               
healthcare, and food.   That's why, in 2001,  the Alaska Catholic                                                               
Conference  endorsed the  increase to  the minimum  wage and  the                                                               
indexing provision.                                                                                                             
MR. WAGONER  spoke to Section 4,  of HB 255, Training  Wages.  In                                                               
considering  any   legislation,  he  reported  that   the  church                                                               
evaluates the affect of the bill on  the poor and what it does to                                                               
help the  poor to help  themselves.  According to  the Department                                                               
of  Labor  &  Workforce  Development,   about  14,000  to  15,000                                                               
Alaskans earn  minimum wage.   At the national level,  72 percent                                                               
of  those   on  the   minimum  wage  are   22  years   or  older.                                                               
[Therefore], he concluded that HB  255 would affect approximately                                                               
3,300 people in Alaska.                                                                                                         
Number 0960                                                                                                                     
MR. WAGONER  stated that HB  255 takes $2  out of the  pockets of                                                               
these  3,300  people, who  are  at  the  bottom of  the  economic                                                               
ladder, and  puts it into  the pockets of  people who are  not at                                                               
the bottom of the economic  ladder.  There's a difference between                                                               
a job  with training sessions  and on-the-job training.   He said                                                               
he has  been a cook, a  janitor, a highway worker,  and a seafood                                                               
processor, and  in all of  those jobs, he  worked hard.   He said                                                               
that even  though he was a  new employee, he deserved  to be paid                                                               
the same  amount as the  person standing  next to him  because it                                                               
was on-the-job  training.   He observed  that generally,  the new                                                               
worker is being trained by fellow  workers.  He said there hasn't                                                               
been  any testimony  that describes  the so-called  training that                                                               
requires the  employer to  pay the  new worker  $2 less  an hour,                                                               
which is a substantial amount.                                                                                                  
MR. WAGONER  also raised issues of  equity.  He used  the example                                                               
of two  new employees hired at  McDonalds -- one is  19 years old                                                               
and the other is  20.  One earns $7.15 a hour  and the other gets                                                               
paid  $5.15.    There's  no  equity there,  he  said.    He  also                                                               
described the situation of a  32-year-old woman, a single mom who                                                               
doesn't have a  lot of job skills  but needs the work.   He asked                                                               
whom  the employer  would  hire in  the  summertime, someone  for                                                               
$7.15  an hour,  or someone  for  $5.15 a  hour.   It creates  an                                                               
imbalance, he claimed.  Young  people will benefit but the people                                                               
over age  20 won't  be able  to get the  jobs.   These unintended                                                               
consequences are not good, he said.                                                                                             
MR.  WAGONER  recommended  that Section  4  [Training  wages]  be                                                               
dropped from  the bill.   He said  the conference has  no problem                                                               
with the  rest of the  bill and is not  taking a position  on it.                                                               
He said his  wife uses the flexible schedule.   He applied to the                                                               
department for those wages.                                                                                                     
Number 0807                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  identified himself as  a member of  the same                                                               
church, but disagreed  with Mr. Wagoner, saying  that the bishops                                                               
are  expressing   a  political  position  rather   than  a  moral                                                               
position.    He  said  he  didn't  remember  seeing  anything  in                                                               
scripture  about minimum  wage.   He  agrees  with Mr.  Wagoner's                                                               
point  about the  dignity of  work and  the right  to work  for a                                                               
living, decent wage.                                                                                                            
MR. WAGONER noted that preference  for the poor and vulnerable is                                                               
a  tenet of  Catholic  social  teaching.   The  most often  cited                                                               
subject in  the New Testament  is service  to the poor,  he said.                                                               
He recounted  the story  of the field  manager who  hired workers                                                               
throughout  the day  and paid  each one  a full  day's wage.   He                                                               
explained  that each  worker  was paid  the  amount necessary  to                                                               
survive to the next day.                                                                                                        
CHAIR ANDERSON commented  that the turnover rate is  very high at                                                               
fast  food restaurants.   There  needs to  be a  balance for  the                                                               
business owner, too, he said.                                                                                                   
Number 0562                                                                                                                     
MR.  WAGONER described  a local  business in  town that  pays its                                                               
workers more than  minimum wage; this business  doesn't have high                                                               
turnover.  If an employer  treats the workers with respect, there                                                               
is less turnover.   There are some jobs that  don't require a lot                                                               
of  training  and people  move  [through  the business  rapidly].                                                               
People  who have  good key  employees  don't want  to lose  them.                                                               
Some  of  these small-thinking  businesses  would  rather have  a                                                               
revolving mill because they don't  care.  He reiterated that this                                                               
bill is an attempt to take $2  out of the pockets of those people                                                               
who need  it the most.   There's not a  lot of training  in these                                                               
jobs, he said.                                                                                                                  
Number 0470                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  agreed with  Mr. Wagoner's  tenets about                                                               
the dignity of work but took  exception to his analysis.  He said                                                               
he believes that  he is accomplishing Mr. Wagoner's  [goals].  He                                                               
said he intends  to open opportunities for young  people and give                                                               
them  an  opportunity  to  become  employed,  to  learn,  and  to                                                               
progress.    He  said  he   believes  in  the  marketplace;  when                                                               
employees prove  their worth, they  will be rewarded.   He stated                                                               
that  he  agrees  with the  enlightened  self-interest  style  of                                                               
management that treats employees well.   He contended that people                                                               
who had the training  will be hired at a higher  wage in a better                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked if the Catholic  Church is against                                                               
the current training wage for 16 and  17 year olds for 30 hours a                                                               
week.   This bill  expands the  current law to  18- and  19- year                                                               
olds and allows them to work 10  hours more a week.  He also said                                                               
he was  distressed that  the Catholic  Church was  not supporting                                                               
flexible schedules for working parents.   He asked Mr. Wagoner to                                                               
consider this provision and give it  his support.  He said of all                                                               
the  major employment  issues in  the country  right now,  single                                                               
parents need to have flexibility in their workday.                                                                              
MR. WAGONER  said he would take  the flex-time issue back  to the                                                               
Alaska Catholic Conference.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   LYNN  agreed   with  Representative   Rokeberg's                                                               
Number 0204                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG thanked  Mr. Wagoner  for representing                                                               
the church's  position on HB  255.  He  said they agree  that the                                                               
best thing  to give a  person is a  good job with  good benefits.                                                               
He said that  undercutting the minimum wage by $2  an hour for 90                                                               
days  because  it's called  training  is  bizarre.   An  employer                                                               
learns a  worker's worth in  an afternoon,  he opined.   He asked                                                               
Mr. Wagoner  whether filing  the flex-time  request for  his wife                                                               
was difficult.                                                                                                                  
Number 0128                                                                                                                     
MR. WAGONER  replied that  it was "a  pain," a  regulations hoop.                                                               
This occurred seven  years ago, for "four-tens",  which the staff                                                               
[at his wife's office] loves.   If there was more flexibility [in                                                               
the program], it would have been  good to have a different set of                                                               
hours, he said.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG commented  that  removing language  on                                                               
page 3,  lines 18-25, [that  requires department approval  of any                                                               
flex  plan]  opens   the  program  to  complete   abuse  [by  the                                                               
employer].   There are no  restrictions regarding  [what schedule                                                               
an  employer could  demand], he  said.   An  employer could  work                                                               
somebody two twenty-hour shifts in a row.                                                                                       
Number 0027                                                                                                                     
MR. WAGONER said  the goal of flex time  is important, regardless                                                               
of a person's side  of the bargaining table.  One  reason he is a                                                               
real estate agent  is the flexibility of  his schedule, [allowing                                                               
him to drive his children to various events].                                                                                   
TAPE 03-37, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0009                                                                                                                     
MR. WAGONER reiterated his opposition to training wages.                                                                        
Number 0033                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  used the example  of his daughter who  is a                                                               
college  sophomore  and  scans  groceries at  a  large  store  in                                                               
Wasilla.  He said that she  learned how to push groceries through                                                               
a scanner in  the first 45 seconds  of her job.  If  she had been                                                               
hired at a training  wage, it would have been a way  to pay her a                                                               
lot less.   He said  he would favor paying  $1 an hour  less than                                                               
the prevailing minimum wage for  a maximum of 10 consecutive work                                                               
hours.  He asked Mr. Wagoner if he favored this approach.                                                                       
Number 0170                                                                                                                     
MR.  WAGONER  said  he  would  go back  to  the  Alaska  Catholic                                                               
Conference to ask the members' opinion.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO   said  he   is  considering   offering  an                                                               
amendment that would modify the training wages.                                                                                 
MR. WAGONER said $1 less for 10  hours is a total of $10 [saved].                                                               
The working college student is  a good example, he recalled using                                                               
the money  he earned in  the summer to pay  for his next  year of                                                               
Number 0254                                                                                                                     
BARBARA HUFF  TUCKNESS, Director of Legislative  and Governmental                                                               
Affairs, General Teamsters, Local  959, Alaska, testified against                                                               
HB 255.   She asked about  the public outcry [for  this change in                                                               
the law].   With respect  to the proposed definition  changes [in                                                               
Section 1], she noted that  the federal government is considering                                                               
changing   its   definitions   and   cautioned   against   Alaska                                                               
incorporate  [a  changing  federal definition].    She  advocated                                                               
state control  -- rather  than federal  [dictates] --  over those                                                               
decisions that affect working people.                                                                                           
MS. HUFF  TUCKNESS testified  that she  was very  concerned about                                                               
[changes in HB 255 in] flexible  schedules.  The Teamsters do not                                                               
oppose flexible schedules, she said,  but the bill in its current                                                               
form allows an  employer to direct an employee  to work according                                                               
to  the  particular  needs  of  that  employer.    She  said  the                                                               
Teamsters  support  [flexible  schedules]  with  sideboards  that                                                               
protect  the employees.   She  described dealing  with employers,                                                               
under collective  bargaining agreements, who attempted  to misuse                                                               
the flexible schedule for the  employers' convenience, not at the                                                               
employee's request.   She  suggested the  need for  language that                                                               
addressed that particular issue.   The language [in HB 255] gives                                                               
full power  and control to  any employer to implement  a flexible                                                               
schedule, [which could] negatively  impact an employee's overtime                                                               
Number 0505                                                                                                                     
MS.  HUFF  TUCKNESS  addressed  the training  wage  issue.    She                                                               
discussed the bill  with her 19-year-old son who  told her, "Mom,                                                               
at $5.15 an  hour, I can't afford  to put gas in my  truck or pay                                                               
for  my  insurance."   She  explained  that  at  age 18,  he  was                                                               
training the  new, older workers  at a  parts store where  he was                                                               
employed.  She said this is  called a training wage, but it's not                                                               
about training.   These  are workers coming  in at  minimum wage.                                                               
The people get trained, and  they move through the system; that's                                                               
the purpose  of the minimum wage.   She said she  doesn't know of                                                               
any business  that pays less  than minimum  wage that is  able to                                                               
keep children let alone adults in these positions.                                                                              
Number 0638                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ANDERSON said  that a big group [of  fast food restaurants]                                                               
support this  bill.  He said  that there's the issue  of fairness                                                               
for the  business owner who must  make cuts in order  to pay that                                                               
minimum wage.  The  intent [of HB 255] is not  to be punitive; he                                                               
said  that  Representative  Rokeberg   is  trying  to  work  with                                                               
businesses and assist in the spirit  of employment.  He asked how                                                               
she would respond  to a restaurant owner who wants  to expand the                                                               
[training wage work  week by] 10 hours because  [most] kids leave                                                               
before three months.                                                                                                            
Number 0727                                                                                                                     
MS. HUFF  TUCKNESS replied that if  this bill is a  jobs creation                                                               
bill,  [accomplished by]  reducing an  employee's wage  by $2  an                                                               
hour, she  doesn't agree with it.   She said she  doesn't believe                                                               
that there will be kids who will work for $5.15 an hour.                                                                        
CHAIR ANDERSON restated  Ms. Huff Tuckness's point  that [HB 255]                                                               
would  hurt the  business because  kids  would not  work at  that                                                               
Number 0809                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO mentioned  the  proposed $100  head tax  as                                                               
another [impediment]  that would  [discourage young  people] from                                                               
taking a job [at training wages].                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG asked  Ms. Huff  Tuckness what  wage her                                                               
son was earning.                                                                                                                
MS. HUFF TUCKNESS said he was  earning $9.25 an hour at the parts                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG read  an  [exemption]  from the  current                                                               
overtime statute on page 3, line  11:  "(13) work performed by an                                                               
employee under a flexible work hour  plan if the plan is included                                                               
as part  of a  collective bargaining  agreement;".   He concluded                                                               
that  employees [covered  by]  collective  bargaining are  exempt                                                               
from the provisions  of the flexible work hour  plan for overtime                                                               
payment under  Alaska statutes.   He asked  Ms. Huff  Tuckness if                                                               
that is correct.                                                                                                                
MS. HUFF TUCKNESS  replied yes.  She added  that unions negotiate                                                               
overtime that is applicable to any of these schedules.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked  Representative Crawford to comment                                                               
on this provision.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD replied that  under his union's contract,                                                               
employees can  work "four-tens"  under state  law but  they can't                                                               
work [a  week consisting of three  twelve hour days and  one four                                                               
hour day] "three twelves and a four".                                                                                           
Number 0951                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  disagreed.  He said  union employees can                                                               
work whatever  [flexible schedule] they bargain;  they are exempt                                                               
under collective  bargaining agreements.  That's  the whole point                                                               
here,  he  said;  all  organized   labor  is  exempt  from  these                                                               
MS. HUFF TUCKNESS responded that  whether the union represents 30                                                               
people  or  thousands,  those workers  are  protected  under  the                                                               
collective   bargaining  agreement   with   overtime  rules   and                                                               
regulations as restrictive  or as flexible as they need  to be to                                                               
accommodate  the  particular employer.    That  is those  workers                                                               
protection.   She stated  that there  are still  grievances, even                                                               
with  a contract  in  writing,  over wages  and  schedules.   She                                                               
advised  against [removing]  the  sideboards  from the  statutes.                                                               
She  [mischievously]   suggested  that  organized   labor  should                                                               
support  the   bill,  creating   the  best   possible  organizing                                                               
opportunity.   She  reiterated that  the Teamsters  are not  here                                                               
testifying against flexible schedules.   She said that this exact                                                               
issue  was debated  several years  ago in  Washington, D.C.,  and                                                               
went down  for the  same reasons.   When an  employer looks  at a                                                               
flexible schedule, it's for totally  different reasons than those                                                               
of  an  employee.   An  employer's  perspective is  managing  the                                                               
workforce and  getting the work  product out in the  most timely,                                                               
efficient  manner.     Unfortunately,  it  is   the  workers  who                                                               
ultimately end up [paying the price].                                                                                           
Number 1100                                                                                                                     
JOHN  ZULEGER, explained  that he  represented himself  and other                                                               
hard working, voting Alaskans who oppose  HB 255.  He put himself                                                               
through college at age 18 and  19 by working these same jobs that                                                               
the committee is discussing.  He  said at $5.15 an hour, he could                                                               
not  have done  it  without  [taking out]  loans  and drawing  on                                                               
everybody else.   He said  it doesn't take  90 days to  learn how                                                               
flip a hamburger, make  a bed, or mop a floor.   It took him five                                                               
minutes.  Ninety  days is the working season for  the majority of                                                               
people; it's  the time  they make  their money.   If they  had to                                                               
work for $2 an hour less, they  couldn't survive.  He said he now                                                               
works in the  road construction industry, which has  a very short                                                               
season.  If  he had to work  for less than time and  a half after                                                               
eight hours,  he said he  couldn't survive  either.  He  said the                                                               
workers get  the job  done, and  that's what it  takes.   He said                                                               
that  employers can't  throw  in  other people  and  do the  flex                                                               
schedule; it's  not productive.   He said  that the  only support                                                               
for  this bill  is  from the  business people  who  are going  to                                                               
benefit.  He quoted average  blue collar working persons who told                                                               
him, "This is nothing but a  bad deal for me," especially younger                                                               
people working in the fast food restaurants and grocery stores.                                                                 
Number 1269                                                                                                                     
KAREN  PLESS,   Apprentice,  International  Union   of  Operating                                                               
Engineers, Local  302, testified  against HB  255.   Taking money                                                               
from the  pockets of Alaskans  hurts all Alaskans,  including the                                                               
businesspeople [whose  interests] are  represented in  this bill,                                                               
she said.   She said that  legislators, of all people,  should be                                                               
aware of the  short working season; this is when  a large segment                                                               
of  Alaskans   make  their   yearly  wages.     She   decried  as                                                               
unconscionable the idea  that people under age 20  do not deserve                                                               
a decent  wage.  Many  of these individuals support  families and                                                               
pay  child support,  [difficult to  do on]  $5.15 an  hour.   She                                                               
predicted  that  most  of  the   committee  will  receive  Social                                                               
Security, but  a lot of  these people won't have  Social Security                                                               
by the  time they retire.   This bill will effectively  take jobs                                                               
away from Alaskans  who cannot insist on [the minimum]  wage.  In                                                               
her industry, she's  protected.  But employers can  "pink slip" a                                                               
worker [to  avoid paying]  overtime; they  wouldn't have  to give                                                               
any  reason to  let the  employee go.   She  encouraged committee                                                               
members to think  of all the people out there  who don't have the                                                               
protection  that  [Operating  Engineers]  Local  302  offers  its                                                               
Number 1348                                                                                                                     
JOHN   BROWN,  President,   Fairbanks   Central  Labor   Council;                                                               
International Union of Operating  Engineers, Local 302, explained                                                               
that he represents  almost 10,000 members.   He testified against                                                               
HB 255.   The working families of  Alaska do not need  a pay cut.                                                               
Alaska has gone from having the  highest per capita income in the                                                               
nation to the middle of the pack  in the last 15 years; this bill                                                               
will  continue the  erosion of  wages for  workers in  Alaska, he                                                               
cautioned.    He  said  the   testimony  from  the  [hospitality]                                                               
industry at the earlier hearing  [indicated that] they want their                                                               
employees  to work  more hours  for  less money.   Currently  all                                                               
employers pay overtime and minimum wages  on a level basis.  This                                                               
bill will allow  some employers to pay less in  overtime and less                                                               
than the  minimum wage.   Many industries in Alaska  are seasonal                                                               
in nature  and the  employees in those  industries depend  on the                                                               
overtime to make up  for the lack of work.   The reduced wage for                                                               
90 days in many cases would  [pay] young workers at a substandard                                                               
rate for  their entire employment  period.  He quoted  an earlier                                                               
witness who testified that this  legislation is needed for people                                                               
who work  two jobs.   Mr.  Brown commented that  it's a  very sad                                                               
commentary on our  state and our society that a  person must work                                                               
two jobs  just to survive.   This bill will push  more workers in                                                               
that direction.   He said  that collective  bargaining agreements                                                               
are not  exempted [from  state law].   He  invited Representative                                                               
Rokeberg to talk  to specific attorneys and union  officials.  He                                                               
said [employers  with union contracts]  must pay overtime  on the                                                               
same  basis as  everyone else.   That  right cannot  be bargained                                                               
away under state law.                                                                                                           
Number 1492                                                                                                                     
JOHN DAVID RAGAN, Laborers International  Union of North America,                                                               
Local 942;  Ester Community Association; Volunteer  fire fighter,                                                               
Ester  Volunteer Fire  Department,  opposed HB  255.   He  quoted                                                               
Henry Ford  who said that he  wanted every worker in  his factory                                                               
to earn enough money to buy  his or her own automobile.  American                                                               
workers  making  a  decent   wage,  buying  automobiles,  houses,                                                               
consumer  goods,  patronizing  local  businesses,  sending  their                                                               
children to  college, and  raising families,  has been  the motor                                                               
creating America's prosperity  in the 20th century.   That decent                                                               
wage, as Franklin  D. Roosevelt called it, was  guaranteed by the                                                               
great labor victories in the  nineteenth and twentieth centuries.                                                               
That  decent wage  is what  makes the  economy so  different from                                                               
third world  countries like Mexico,  where money  is concentrated                                                               
in the hands of  a few people and the mass  of people barely make                                                               
enough  to  buy the  basic  necessities  of  life.   Because  the                                                               
majority of people  in many third world countries  have no buying                                                               
power, their economies have stagnated  and are unable to develop.                                                               
Because  American  workers were  paid  a  decent wage,  the  U.S.                                                               
became the economic  powerhouse of the world.   This legislation,                                                               
HB 255,  is a direct  attack on the  minimum wage and  the 8-hour                                                               
day, which  the American  labor movement fought  for and  died to                                                               
make the law of the land in 20th century America.                                                                               
MR.  RAGAN  complained  that  he  and many  others  came  to  the                                                               
legislative [information] office on  Monday to testify.  Instead,                                                               
the committee heard the testimony  of paid industry lobbyists who                                                               
spoke at length without any  time limits, while [ignoring] normal                                                               
working people in Fairbanks who could not travel to Juneau.                                                                     
Number 1585                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  ANDERSON  explained  the  time  constraints  on  committee                                                               
hearings and invited Mr. Ragan  to submit written testimony which                                                               
would be included in all  legislators' bill packets when the bill                                                               
goes to the House floor.                                                                                                        
MR.  RAGAN  replied  that  there were  15-20  people  waiting  to                                                               
testify on Monday.                                                                                                              
CHAIR ANDERSON apologized for the delays.                                                                                       
Number 1638                                                                                                                     
MATTHEW SAMPSON disagreed  that HB 255 makes  improvements to the                                                               
Alaska Wage and Hour Act and  argued that it is user-friendly for                                                               
employers  but  not  employees.     He  said  this  bill  enables                                                               
employers to make  money off of the little guy.   He said Section                                                               
3 undermines  current overtime laws.   The people voted  to raise                                                               
the  Alaska minimum  wage, which  is different  from the  federal                                                               
minimum wage  for a reason.   Mr.  Sampson said that  the written                                                               
agreement  between a  newly hired  employee and  employer is  all                                                               
that's  needed  to reduce  the  [worker's]  current overtime  pay                                                               
requirements.  Nothing in this  bill allows for oversight or that                                                               
holds employers to a standard that prevents abuse.                                                                              
Number 1766                                                                                                                     
MR.  SAMPSON said  that  the 8-hour  day,  40-hour workweek  came                                                               
about in  the 1930's for the  benefit of the working  man and the                                                               
employer.   He said it  has worked for the  last 70 years  and is                                                               
going  to work  for  the next  70 years.    [The 90-day  training                                                               
period in] Section 4 covers  seasonal workers, and it's about the                                                               
length of the  summertime season in Fairbanks.   It [appears that                                                               
the  bill  is  written]  for  the  food  processing  and  service                                                               
industry employers  who make  most of their  money in  the summer                                                               
off of  cheap labor.  He  said he heard testimony  from employers                                                               
who  stand to  make money  off this  bill.   He has  yet to  hear                                                               
testimony from  any employee  who will make  better wages  as the                                                               
result of this bill.  He has  yet to hear from any single parents                                                               
who support the bill.  He said  it doesn't take too long to learn                                                               
how  to cut  the head  off  a fish  or how  to  make a  bed.   He                                                               
understands training and learning, and  that's why he's part of a                                                               
union;  he   gets  paid   to  get  that   training.     The  bill                                                               
discriminates against people under the age of 20.                                                                               
Number 1915                                                                                                                     
CARL WEED  opposed HB  255, which he  described as  regressive in                                                               
helping workers, who are consumers,  and also for the businessman                                                               
who is selling products.   He anticipated that the [results would                                                               
ultimately harm the families of]  the person working two jobs and                                                               
the parent  who owes child support.   He said he  could train any                                                               
young person to put a pickle on a hamburger.                                                                                    
CHAIR  ANDERSON, upon  hearing  no one  else  wished to  testify,                                                               
closed the public hearing.                                                                                                      
Number 2030                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  moved to  adopt Conceptual  Amendment 2.                                                               
In Section 3 [page 3,  line 17, after "department" from Amendment                                                               
1] add:                                                                                                                         
     and the plan provides that the work is for 80 hours in                                                                     
     a two-week period and not more than 12 hours a day;                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  explained that now, the  current rule is                                                               
40  hours in  a week,  but any  employee can't  make up  any time                                                               
missed.  He said he used  12 hours because the current maximum is                                                               
10 hours,  and it would be  the maximum [allowed] in  a flex-time                                                               
provision.  He  said this provides additional  sideboards so that                                                               
when the  [flex-time] contract is  filed with the  department, it                                                               
would  have  a  way  to  enforce the  contract  if  there  was  a                                                               
complaint.   This [provision] avoids the  "two twenties" [example                                                               
cited earlier] which is absurd but makes a point.                                                                               
Number 2115                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  ANDERSON,  hearing  no objections,  said  that  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  said  he  would like  to  consult  with                                                               
people  directly affected  by the  training wage,  including some                                                               
workers.  State  law has an existing 30-hour [per  week] rule for                                                               
16- and  17- year olds.   This bill relates  to 18- and  19- year                                                               
olds who  could work [at training  wages] for 40 hours  [a week].                                                               
He said  that because of the  testimony and [his desire  to avoid                                                               
this  becoming] a  ploy  for [employers  of]  summer or  seasonal                                                               
workers, he is considering lowering  [the 90-day training period]                                                               
to 30 days.   He disagreed that  a person could be  trained in 10                                                               
hours, unless  it [involves] scanning  [groceries].  He  said the                                                               
intention  is to  hire people,  to avoid  the revolving  door [of                                                               
short-term employees], to get kids  up to speed [in work skills].                                                               
The bill's purpose  is not to relieve the employer  of paying the                                                               
[minimum] wage.   He said he is not going  to offer the amendment                                                               
today, but he'll consider it for the next committee.                                                                            
CHAIR ANDERSON  said he agrees  with this  [potential amendment];                                                               
it helps with one of the issues he has been trying to balance.                                                                  
Number 2221                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   ROKEBERG  said   that   Section   1,  with   the                                                               
definitions of  supervisors and executives,  defaults to  the new                                                               
federal  regulations  that are  part  of  the  bill packet.    He                                                               
pointed out  the unintended  consequence of  a regulation  [8 AAC                                                               
15.910.  Definitions]  by the  Department  of  Labor &  Workforce                                                               
Development  is  that it  requires  anyone  in an  administrative                                                               
category to be  paid 2.5 times the minimum wage,  that is, $17.88                                                               
an hour  or $37,000  a year.   This is a  crushing blow  to small                                                               
businesses, he  said, and  needs to be  corrected.   He explained                                                               
that the  department offered to  change the regulation,  but this                                                               
bill uses  the language and  the standards of federal  law, which                                                               
raise the wages [of administrative staff  to a minimum of] $425 a                                                               
week.  He said he wanted to put this issue on the record.                                                                       
CHAIR ANDERSON said  that he particularly agrees  with the change                                                               
[in Section 1].  No one has spoken in opposition to it, he said.                                                                
Number 2280                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  said that regulation forced  the wage up                                                               
to a very  high level.  If someone is  building a resume, working                                                               
into a managerial position, the  person would only be making $10,                                                               
$12, or $14 an hour, which is  all a small business can afford to                                                               
pay.  He used the example of  his own small business, in which he                                                               
hired people out of the  correctional institutions to give them a                                                               
break  and give  them  some managerial  responsibility.   But  he                                                               
can't  afford to  pay $17.88  an hour.   It  looks good  on their                                                               
resume,  gives  them  good  experience,  helps  put  their  lives                                                               
together,   and  [allows   them   to]  make   a  decent   income.                                                               
Representative Rokeberg  said he shouldn't  be forced by  the law                                                               
to  have to  pay  somebody  overtime if  they  work  an extra  15                                                               
minutes, if  they have  a certain  amount of  responsibility over                                                               
the other folks.  It's just not fair, he said.                                                                                  
CHAIR  ANDERSON   invited  committee  members  to   make  closing                                                               
Number 2346                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  said the bill  will help small  business and                                                               
help employees  because [the businesses]  will be able  to afford                                                               
to hire  more employees.  He  advised caution so that  it doesn't                                                               
have unintended consequences.                                                                                                   
TAPE 03-37, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 2371                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  said he disagrees regarding  the flex-                                                               
time  portion of  the bill.   The  committee heard  the bill;  we                                                               
heard arguments from the [hospitality]  industry that it wanted a                                                               
level playing  field, which  he called a  bizarre statement.   He                                                               
said the  bill leaves considerable difference  between people who                                                               
are  covered by  collective  bargaining agreement  and those  who                                                               
aren't.   If an  employee is covered  by a  collective bargaining                                                               
agreement, the  person has  a contract  and a  representative who                                                               
can come  in and have a  discussion with the employer.   However,                                                               
the [nonunion] employee  may be given a form to  sign agreeing to                                                               
a flex-time schedule, and therefore in  the end the person has no                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG expressed  concern  with the  training                                                               
wage.   In a minimum wage  job, it doesn't take  [a new employee]                                                               
more  than an  hour to  figure out  how to  bus dishes,  cut fish                                                               
heads,  mop  floors,  or  grind   coffee.    Employees  make  the                                                               
business.  If  a business doesn't pay its  employees what they're                                                               
worth,  if  it hides  behind  a  training  excuse to  reduce  the                                                               
minimum wage, he said he can't  imagine that the business will be                                                               
successful  anyway.    Tourism   and  food  service  are  service                                                               
industries.   He  recalled Mr.  Wagoner's comments  on the  basic                                                               
human  dignity [of  work].   Representative Guttenberg  said that                                                               
the best  social service program  is a  decent job with  a decent                                                               
salary,  with health  and welfare  benefits to  take care  of the                                                               
worker  and the  family.   He said  this bill  erodes that  basic                                                               
[role] of society.                                                                                                              
Number 2276                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM said for the  record that this bill does                                                               
not affect the basic minimum wage of $7.15 an hour.                                                                             
Number 2267                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD apologized  that he  missed some  of the                                                               
testimony  today  and  earlier   that  might  have  answered  his                                                               
questions.   He  focused on  moving  the training  wage age  from                                                               
under  18 years  to  under 20  years.   He  said  there was  some                                                               
[justification] for  workers under  age 18  because they  had not                                                               
reached the age  of majority yet.  But 18-  and 19-year olds have                                                               
reached the age  of majority, and he said there  might be grounds                                                               
for an age  discrimination suit, which he would  prefer to avoid.                                                               
He said  he's still not  certain whether changing  the definition                                                               
of managers  affects their rights to  overtime.  If they  give up                                                               
their  rights  to  overtime,  do they  still  have  minimum  wage                                                               
protection under this  bill, he asked.  He said  he believes that                                                               
a flexible work schedule is up to  10 hours a day.  He would hate                                                               
to see  not having those  sideboards [protecting workers]  in the                                                               
Number 2164                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  ANDERSON said  that Representative  Rokeberg's staff  just                                                               
provided  him  with  an  analysis   from  Legislative  Legal  and                                                               
Research Services  to answer one  of the questions.   The federal                                                               
law on minimum  wage, 29 U.S.C. 026, already  allows for training                                                               
wages for newly hired employees less than 20 years old.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE   ROKEBERG  confirmed   that   [these  items   are                                                               
contained] in  the federal law.   [Provisions in HB  255] clearly                                                               
default to federal law.   He reviewed for Representative Crawford                                                               
the affect of Amendments 1 and 2  on the bill and his interest in                                                               
a  potential amendment  to cut  the  training period  back to  30                                                               
days.   He commented  that to make  flex-time work,  the employee                                                               
needs longer  than a one-week work  period to make up  time; most                                                               
small businesses  pay over a  two-week work period.   [This bill]                                                               
provides more flexibility to make up time.                                                                                      
Number 2103                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  said he  has worked  many a  12-hour day                                                               
and he knows that after 10  hours people get a lot more fatigued.                                                               
[The number of hours  in a work day] becomes a  safety issue.  He                                                               
said  that a  10-hour  workday  is flexible  enough.   A  12-hour                                                               
workday is  above and beyond  a normal person's capacity  to work                                                               
except in an  emergency situation.  He said he  still favors four                                                               
10-hour days in a 7-day period.                                                                                                 
Number 2062                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report  HB 255, as amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                                       
Number 2038                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG objected.                                                                                             
A  roll   call  vote  was  taken.     Representatives  Dahlstrom,                                                               
Rokeberg,  Lynn,  and Anderson  voted  in  favor  of HB  255,  as                                                               
amended.   Representatives Guttenberg and Crawford  voted against                                                               
it.  Therefore, CSHB 255 was reported out of the House Labor and                                                                
Commerce Standing Committee by a vote of 4-2.                                                                                   
CHAIR ANDERSON invited all witnesses who testified to submit                                                                    
written testimony to the next committee of referral, the House                                                                  
Finance Standing Committee.                                                                                                     

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