OK, I appreciate the additional information.
This is a fairly unique situation. As you probably know, with a union agreement or a written contract, the employer and employee are theoreticdfally allowed to negotiate in good faith. Of course, what really happens is that employers say I'm paying X, "take it or leave it."
The law here would be defined by your state labor laws, however, they generally follow the federal Dep't of Labor. Under recent legal cases, the DOL has basically followed the rule that once you report to work, you are on the clock. So, if you rack up 45 hours, you are due 5 hrs overtime, period. Confusion arises when people are dispatched to workplaces to begin the day at other than the normal place of business. Here, you report to the main shop then go off on jobs or assignments. It sounds to me that you are on the clock. Remember, the employer is still benefitting for your time, because you are travelling in order to accomplish a job in which they will profit.
Now, it would probably be OK if you received the work assignment the day before, and you then commuted to that work site. In that instance, the company might very well be able to pay a differential pay bewteen travel and the actual work.
Paul, here is what I think you should do; first, try and visit with a local employment lawyer, there is no substitute for that, and second, you might visit with the local labor commissioner office, (usually the same place where unemployment is filed).
Keep in mind that any actual claim is going to strain relations, but I do think this warrants a second long look. Underpaid wages can be recovered at 2x loss, and the multiplier is 3X for willfull violations.
Good luck with this.
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