I currently work at a building where our preload shift has had a non-consistent system of breaks for well over a year. With the old system, we received a 15-minute break period which was made as closely to the middle of the shift as possible. Everyone (unloaders,sorters, loaders, irreg drivers) would stop working for this break. Now this is done almost only during peak season. As for the rest of the year, no break is given. When the manager first started this system of "no break" the reason given was that California law says an employee must work 3 hours and 45 minutes (3.75 hours) in order to receive a break. He also claimed business was slowing down enough that we shouldn't have to be working that amount of time. In reality, the majority of people end up having to work 4 hours and being robbed of their 15 minute break. After a week or so without breaks, people started learning only via word of mouth how to receive the 15 minutes we're being robbed of. Simple: stay on the clock another 15 minutes at the end of the day. Management didn't officially announce this or go around to everyone. To do this day, new employees never know this either untill we tell them. Sometimes management tries to tell people during this time that they have to punch out and punch back in. Again, it seems like they're not doing things in any official matter. Finally, as of recently, some people are standing up and saying law allows them to take the break in the middle and that they only have to work 3 and a half hours to earn it, and they have actually stopped and taken their individual breaks while the whole building is up. These people are usually loaders so it's somewhat easier for them to walk away from their jobs than a sorter or pickoff, but I don't think they're going to continue doing that. I've finally got around to educating myself about the law and have discovered that the real numbers are "3 and a half hours of work" and "10 minute break". So they're giving us extra 5 minutes, but robbing us of the whole system itself? It is also common knowledge in our building that our contract guarantees us the very same 3 and a half hours of work daily. In other words, EVERY employee should be earning break EVERY day. It seems like the old break system is the only legit and practical one. From now on, I plan to take my break at the mid-point on any day I feel I may need it. I also plan on informing my brethren of all this information in hopes of rallying further support for change. I figure if enough people are being assertive with their right to a break, they'll have to give it to us. Unfortunatly, I have very little faith that there would be enough people doing this for it to matter. As it is, many people are working 4 hours straight and NOT claiming their 15 minutes at the end. They just clock out and go home. And this is how their ed up system ends up working. (Not to mention all the money they save from higher-seniority sort-aisle employees who only work the minimum 3 and a half hours and think they havn't earned a break) I would appreciate any help, advice, or extra information that might help this situation. Also, if you're in California, it would be extra helpful if you know the laws on breaks and can tell me anything I'm missing or am misinformed of.