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          Front Page




Sandia Settles Labor Suit

By John Fleck
Journal Staff Writer
       Sandia National Laboratories on Wednesday announced a $2 million settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor over the way the nuclear weapons research center handled worker overtime.
    Some 2,600 Sandia workers will receive checks ranging from $18 to $930, according to a notice sent Wednesday by lab management to Sandia workers.
    At issue was a dispute about the proper way to calculate overtime for hourly workers when Sandia shifted 10 years ago to a "9/80" work week, Sandia spokesman John German said. The policy allows Sandia employees to work five days one week and four the next, giving them a three-day weekend every other week.
    In Wednesday's notice to staff members, Sandia Vice President John Slipke reiterated the labs' position that Sandia did nothing wrong.
    "Sandia believes that its employees have been fully and fairly compensated for overtime hours worked and that the DOL findings are related to record-keeping deficiencies that have been corrected," Slipke wrote.
    The problem involved the way Sandia divided up the hours worked. To properly split up the pay period hours, Sandia created a workweek break at midday each Friday, so half that day's hours would show up on the current week's time card and half on the coming week's time card, making each a 40-hour work week.
    The problem, German said, came with the definition of "midday" because some workers come in early and leave early on Fridays.
    Sandia adjusted its pay period calculations in May in response to the Department of Labor's concerns, according to the notice sent to workers Wednesday.