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Immediate, widespread support for restoring overtime pay

TUMWATER (June 6, 2019) — The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) announced Wednesday its long-awaited proposal to restore overtime pay rights, which is projected to return time-and-a-half pay to more than 250,000 workers who’ve lost those protections because rules haven’t been updated in more than 40 years. And the support for L&I and its proposed rule was immediate and widespread.

Here is a sampling:




Jay Inslee, Governor:

“This is a long overdue update that will help tens of thousands of Washingtonian workers. Overtime protections ensure workers are fairly compensated when they work more than 40 hours in a given week — time that would otherwise be spent with their families and in their communities. The erosion of this threshold over time has left too many workers behind. Washington has consistently ranked as one of the top economies in the country while also being ranked as the best state for workers. We know a strong economy goes hand-in-hand with a strong and well-supported workforce. I thank L&I for their work to update the system that will benefit hard-working Washingtonians and their families. I encourage people to participate in the process and share their stories and comments.”

(Visit for more information about how to support the rule, public hearings scheduled across the state this summer, and how to submit comments to L&I.)

Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General:

“Proud that Washington state has taken an important step today to . For the salaried workers in our state, this means fair pay for hours worked as well as more time with family and in community. Thank you @GovInslee and to our labor advocates for your leadership.”

Hillary Franz, State Lands Commissioner:

“It’s not controversial to pay workers OT. I applaud @GovInslee & @lniwa for bringing WA’s overtime regulations into the 21st century—putting more money in the pockets of hard-working families. WA continues to be a model for the nation in putting people 1st.”

Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle City Councilmember:

“Workers across this country have been working longer hours for zero additional pay, resulting in negative health impacts ranging from exhaustion, to depression, to cardio-vascular disease. Today’s announcement restores balance to the lives of working families across the state who will soon have the time off they need to pursue educational advancement, spend time with their families, or enjoy our parks and waterfront. If workers are asked to put in extra work, they’ll soon be compensated for their time. I look forward to working with our local non-profits to ensure they have the resources and support they need to make this rule a reality.”




Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, said:

“As working families struggle to pay the bills, they have been working longer and longer hours, sometimes for free because of our outdated overtime pay rules. This update is badly needed so companies can’t exempt so many workers from the 40-hour workweek. It will mean extra pay for some, but importantly, it will help many people in Washington get their time back, too… When your workweek never ends, your life becomes a constant scramble, and it’s almost impossible to maintain your health, care for your family, and make some time for yourself,” Brown said. “But when an employer has to pay more for extra work hours, it means more parents have more time for their children, more neighbors have time for their communities, and more people have time to pursue their passions.”

Sterling Harders, President of SEIU 775:

“For too long, employers have been able to ask us to do more and more work for less and less pay. The result is that we don’t have enough time to spend with our families or pursue personal goals like education. This rule would be a step toward restoring the original intent of the 40 hour workweek – that our time matters.”

Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of MLK Labor:

“The updated Washington state overtime rules are a financial game changer for thousands of working families across King County. These rule changes will put millions in the pockets of working people by giving them fair pay when they’re required to work overtime. No longer will businesses be able to exploit loopholes that can require those making just $24,000 a year to work beyond 40 hours a week for free.”




Rachel Lauter, Executive Director of Working Washington

“It’s about time. The state’s plan to restore overtime protections will return millions of hours a year to people in our state. Hundreds of thousands of workers will get back the time they need to care for their families, give to their communities, pursue their dreams, and just live their lives. It’s another example of how Washington state is leading the nation on workers’ rights and growing our economy because of it.”

Nicole Vallestero Keenan-Lai, Executive Director, Puget Sound Sage

“Basic labor protections, like overtime, improves the quality of work and management practices for most organizations and businesses. Restoring the true intention of overtime protections by raising the salary threshold is an important step to keeping businesses and organizations effective and reduces the risk of burning out our most important resource: workers. People of color are more likely to work in exempt positions. By restoring this basic economic protection to its original intent for exempt workers, we can make a dent in reducing both economic and racial inequality.”

Misha Werschkul, Executive Director of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center:

“We applaud the action by Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries to modernize our state’s outdated overtime rules. This proposal will ensure that more than 400,000 workers who contribute to our state’s economic prosperity will be fairly compensated for the hours they put in on the job. It will also help them to better balance work with their personal lives and to have a chance to get ahead. As a nonprofit employer, we know that strong labor protections for working people, including our employees and the communities we serve, are fully aligned with our mission. In fact, they strengthen our organization’s capacity to do our work effectively.”

Rebecca Smith, Work Structures Director (Washington-based), National Employment Law Project:

“Washington State under Gov. Inslee is leading the nation in protecting middle class workers from the Trump Administration’s rollback of overtime protections. This bold proposal should be the model for other governors, since it would actually restore overtime to most of the salaried workers who used to enjoy it during the decades of post-war prosperity.”​


Predictably, corporate lobbying groups like the Association of Washington Business expressed opposition to raising wages and promoting more time off work. The AWB’s biggest funders include giant international companies in the retail, restaurant, health care and other industries that routinely exempt low- and middle-wage workers from time-and-a-half pay for overtime.

The AWB claimed L&I’s plan would create a “super minimum wage.” But the rule would not require any business to pay its employees a higher wage or salary, it only restores overtime pay rights to low- and middle-wage workers who make less than the raised threshold. Any business can continue to pay salaries less than that threshold, but if its employees are required to work extra hours, that business would no longer be able to get that extra work for free.


BACKGROUND — L&I has proposed to gradually increase the overtime salary threshold, below which all workers in the state must be paid time-and-a-half for working beyond a 40-hour workweek, to 2.5 times the state minimum wage by 2026. That would mean anyone making less than about $80,000 per year seven years from now, regardless of whether they are classified as hourly or salaried employees, would get time-and-a-half pay beyond 40 hours per week.

For more information, check out L&I’s press release announcing the proposal and its fact sheet offering more detail about the six-year phase-in and how many workers are projected to have their overtime pay rights restored each year.

And then there’s this… (make sure you watch ’til the end for the Washington dig).


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