State Supreme Court finds in favor of Husco International
Waukesha company does not have to pay past wages for breaks

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

April 2, 2015

Husco International's headquarters in Waukesha.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff 

WAUKESHA -The Wisconsin Supreme Court filed an opinion Wednesday reversing the previous decision made by the Court of Appeals and ruling in favor of Husco International concerning an allegation it owed employees back pay for break times.

The case was a result of a dispute between Waukesha-based Husco and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District No. 10 concerning how break times are to be treated under the terms of a faulty contract provision and in the context of state and federal labor laws, according to an overview provided by the Wisconsin Court System.

In 1983, Husco and union representatives agreed to implement some changes to the employees’ collective bargaining agreement, which included an unpaid 20-minute break. Later the involved parties realized they had intentionally violated a law that any work break shorter than 30 minutes should be paid, according to the WCS. A class action lawsuit was filed by the union in 2007 after the Department of Workforce Development denied the plaintiffs’ claim for back pay, saying they were not eligible for pay under the DWD regulation they cited, according to Husco.

Husco then asked the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals’ decision, which reversed a Circuit Court order denying cross motions for summary judgment filed by Husco, its employees and the union.

The opinion published Wednesday said the Supreme Court reverse the Court of Appeals and remand for entry of summary judgment in favor of Husco.

The opinion states that there was no violation of the collective bargaining agreement and there was no allegation of risk to workers’ lives, health, safety or welfare.

“We are very gratified with the Supreme Court’s ruling which supports Husco’s employment practices. We treat our employees with respect, offer them the opportunity to earn a good living, and strive to maintain a good and equitable relationship with the IAMAW,” said Husco CEO Austin Ramirez in a statement.

IAM District 10 business representative Scott Parr did not return a call for comment Wednesday.