$5 Million in Owed OT Sought from Cement Giant

CEMEX Inc., one of the world's largest cement and aggregates suppliers, is experiencing a difficult quarter as volumes and economic activity decline. The good news came Sept. 9 with five of CEMEX USA's cement plants (in Clinchfield, Ga.; Davenport, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Knoxville, Tenn. and Wampum, Pa.) winning EPA and DOE ENERGY STAR status for outstanding energy management. The bad new came Thursday, when the U.S. Labor Department said its has sued the Houston operation for allegedly failing to pay more than $5 million in overtime wages to about 2,000 ready mix drivers in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina from September 2005 to September 2008.

"It is a top priority of this department to ensure that workers receive all the wages they have earned, and we have recovered record amounts of back wages for workers since 2001," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said in a news release. "With this legal action, we are seeking to recover more than $5 million that 2,000 workers are owed for their overtime work."

The DOL Wage and Hour department's investigation determined the company did not pay required OT on piece rate and incentive bonus pay for hours the drivers worked above 40 per week. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires covered employees to be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $6.55 for all hours worked, plus time and a half their regular rates of pay for more than 40 hours worked in a week. The regular rate should include most commissions, bonuses, and incentive pay.

The ENERGY STAR success announced earlier made CEMEX the most-honored cement company in that program. "The ENERGY STAR demonstrates CEMEX's successful commitment to sustainable manufacturing processes while producing the highest-quality products," said Gilberto Perez, president of CEMEX USA. "We are the first cement company in the nation to achieve five ENERGY STAR awards in 2008 for our work to protect the environment through energy efficiency."

In Monterrry, Mexico, CEMEX, S.A.B. de C.V. on Sept. 11 announced it expects flat sales for the third quarter of 2008. For the first nine months of this year, earnings were down 8 percent from 2007's results. Volumes are down in the United States, Spain, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, said CFO Rodrigo Trevino. The company said it has begun a third round of cost-cutting initiatives at the operating level in response to the "sharper-than-expected drop in our main operations."

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