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Support restoring overtime in Washington

Submit comments in support of L&I’s proposed OT rule; deadline extended to Sept. 20


UPDATE — The Department of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday that it has extended the public comment deadline to Friday, Sept. 20. Story updated.

TUMWATER (Sept. 3, 2019) — Time is running out to secure overtime protections for hundreds of thousands of Washington workers. And big corporate lobbying groups are doing everything they can to stop workers from getting the time-and-a-half pay they deserve for overtime work, just like they fought against the minimum wage and paid sick leave.

TAKE A STAND! — The deadline for submitting comments in support of the state Department of Labor and Industries’s (L&I) proposed rule to restore overtime protections is Friday, Sept. 20. Civic Action has set up a one-click web form for you to submit a comment of support, or you can email comments to Please take a moment to submit your comments in support of the rule TODAY!

BACKGROUND — With the support of Gov. Jay Inslee, L&I announced in June its long-awaited proposed rule to restore overtime pay rights. The state has proposed to gradually increase the overtime salary threshold, under 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.

The current salary threshold, which has not been updated for decades to adjust for inflation, is just $23,660 per year. That’s below poverty level and less than what a full-time minimum wage worker in Washington earns. Anyone who earns more than $23,660 can be declared “exempt” salaried employees and forced to work additional hours beyond 40 per week for free. In the decades that salary threshold has been frozen, the percentage of salaried American workers eligible for overtime pay has gone from more than 60% in the 1970s to less than 7% today.

Thanks to decades of trickle-down economic policies rigging our economy for the rich and big businesses, the average salaried worker now working 49 hours per week — and almost all of them are working those extra 9 hours for free. Think about that: That means four workers are currently doing the work of five people – and while they’re working those extra hours without getting overtime pay, they’re losing out on irreplaceable time with friends, family, and community.

“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,” said Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “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.”

Brown added that L&I’s proposed rule will help restore some balance to the working lives of thousands of Washington families.

“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.”

Please add your comment in support of this important and long-overdue rule restoring overtime pay.

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FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!