GEE AND URSULA

‘Suck it up, buttercup’: Gee and Angela debate when the workday begins

Aug 11, 2023, 2:52 PM | Updated: 4:05 pm

The discussion Friday started with talking about the case of an Amazon customer service worker who is accusing the company of failing to pay overtime wages, as reported in The Seattle Times Thursday.

It quickly devolved into a debate about when the workday begins and ends.

Gee Scott felt getting ready for work shouldn’t mean you get paid for it. Angela Poe-Russell, who filled in as co-host on “The Gee & Ursula Show” Friday, said in some cases you should get paid for work prep, especially if you are on the lower end of the pay scale.

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According to the lawsuit filed this month in Washington, Wyeth Hall, who worked remotely for Amazon for eight months in 2020, said the company didn’t pay him for all the hours he worked, including the minutes spent booting up his computer and other applications every day.

“I think he should be paid. I would say that in a lot of cases,” Angela said. “It’s funny because when I initially heard this story, I had that thought I was like, ‘Give me a break.’ How long does it take for you to boot up your computer? But in this case, it sounds like he had to go through all these processes. So at the end of the day, making the minimum wage of $15 an hour. It just seems to me that big companies can do the right thing and be competent and not nickel and dime these people who are already not making a lot.”

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Hall estimated he spent about an hour or two setting up his computer and other applications over the course of the week.

‘Suck it up, buttercup’

“I absolutely disagree with you,” Gee said. “And the reason why you guys are falling for the banana in the tailpipe is because you’re considering their salary of $15 an hour. Let’s just say that this person makes $69 an hour, try to push this. And this person is working from home, and they want to get paid for the hour setup on this computer. I would say, ‘suck it up, buttercup.’ And I’m still saying, ‘suck it up, buttercup.'”

Angela, who was a news anchor at KIRO 7 and KING 5, said it really does have to do with the salary.

“So I’ve been in the business a long time. I’ve made all kinds of wages,” Angela explained. “So when I started, I was really being underpaid. I wanted them to compensate me, the little things mattered. Once I started making a lot of money, I didn’t sweat my employer about little stuff. So I do think that distinction matters.”

Hall also accused Amazon of failing to keep accurate records of the hours he worked and the wages he was owed.

Andrew “Chef” Lanier, the show’s producer, weighed in.

“It seems like a ticky-tack lawsuit, right? Because you’re talking about 10 minutes a day right to get all your stuff squared away,” Chef said. “But here’s the deal. Employers do this ticky-tack stuff on low-wage workers all of the time. The last time anyone gave a crap about my clock-in time was when I was making $10 an hour. And when I was making that amount of money, we would literally have notes up in the break room that would say things like, ‘If you clock in before your shift, you will not be paid even if you are performing work.’ So if you clock in two minutes early, that’s getting cut off your pay stub, right? If you clock out five minutes late, that’s getting cut off your pay stub.”

Hall, who made $15 per hour, said he worked between 40 and 60 hours each week. He estimated he spent about an hour or two setting up his computer and other applications over the course of the week. Hall said he wasn’t able to clock into Amazon’s timekeeping software until he had completely set up his workstation.

“You know what the problem is, a lot of folks out here, you think small,” Gee said. “So you mean to tell me, you want to really, I’m getting cheated out of my wages because it takes me an hour a week to boot my computer. And I have to brush my teeth. And I have to put my underwear on and put my pants on. And oh my, I’m so tired. And you soft workers out here. This is what I’m saying. You want to get paid to do nothing!”

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Angela wanted to know how it would work with Hall’s boss.

“Does the boss get paid when he walks in the door?” she asked. “Does he have to actually start a task?”

Gee agreed that many people are not making enough money in this country.

“At the same time, we also have a problem in this country where people want to come in and get paid a lot to do absolutely nothing.”

Chef talked about a comment on the KIRO Newsradio listener text line.

“Dave, the truck driver, says I start my clock, and right when I started doing my pre-trip for the day, it takes me 15 minutes to do the pre-trip checks. And then I get in my truck and start driving. Yeah, I’m getting paid for that 15 minutes.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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‘Suck it up, buttercup’: Gee and Angela debate when the workday begins