Toyota Motor Corp. says it will pay $4.5 million in back wages to workers in Georgetown, Ky., as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case that originated with workers in a chicken processing plant.
And Toyota's announcement two weeks ago has sent other automakers scrambling to see if they, too, owe workers back wages.
At issue: The time it takes workers to put on protective clothing and get to their workstations, and whether they are paid for that time.
Robert Hitt, a spokesman for BMW Manufacturing Co. in Spartanburg, S.C., said BMW also will have to pay back wages for many of its 4,500 workers, although the amount "will be substantially less than what Toyota had to pay."
UAW spokesman Paul Krell in Detroit said that rules concerning donning protective clothing on company time are covered in local contracts. He said the court ruling will not be an issue for UAW-represented plants, a statement echoed last week by both General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
But legal departments at the domestic automakers did review their procedures after the ruling, and the Chrysler group is still assessing the matter. A Chrysler spokesman said the company might make some changes in its clock-in procedures, and does not know yet whether it will mean back wages for some U.S. assembly workers.