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Not really a problem for unionized employees at the utility company where I worked for twenty years before leaving in 1999.

Blue collars got double time for any overtime worked after the first 100 hours of overtime per year. You got called to ask if you wanted to work, and were free to refuse if it didn't appeal to you. You got paid a minimum two hours of overtime regardless of how much time you actually worked, and got paid from the time you were called to the time you got back home.

You got paid $12.50 for "dinner money" if you worked three hours or longer, and again for each additional three hours worked. For many years, this was petty cashed and not subject to taxes until the IRS complained.

If you worked most of the night, you were routinely excused from working the next day, but got paid for that time not worked.

Some people never worked overtime, a goodly number worked as much time as they could get. Company Vice Presidents were known to complain the blue collars were making more money than they were, and some no doubt were, making from $100,000-$150,000.

When a utility needs unscheduled work done, it can be a pretty desperate matter, and often is a matter of importance for customers who have no service. It may be that the company agreed to generous payments in order to insure that when they called, people would turn out. If so, they got what they paid for, since people did turn out and sometimes might work for days on end during storms or construction disasters to remedy hazards to the public and restore service to customers.

No doubt a lot of white collars are saving themselves the cost of union dues, though.

Seattle Pioneer
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