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Legislators support restoring overtime pay in Washington

OLYMPIA (Sept. 11, 2019) — Led by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent) and Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett), the chairs of the labor committees in the Washington State Senate and House, 48 state legislators co-signed and sent a letter last month to the state Department of Labor and Industries in strong support of L&I’s proposal to restore overtime pay rights for an estimated 250,000 workers in this state.

In an Aug. 19 letter to L&I Director Joel Sacks, they wrote:

We write to express our support for the ongoing rulemaking proposal to update overtime wage standards for Washington workers. Set over forty years ago, the current overtime wage standards are woefully inadequate. Between the 1930’s and the 1970’s, overtime pay ranged between two and three times the minimum wage. Back then, 60% of salaried workers nationally earned extra pay when they worked overtime hours. Now only seven percent do. Accordingly, this rulemaking is critical to Washington state.

Updating overtime protections allows workers more time with their families or more money in their paychecks for overtime work — or a little of both. This helps working families and our economy. Numerous studies also show that reducing work hours boosts productivity, improves safety, and lessens turnover.

Washington state has long been recognized as a pioneer for worker rights. We applaud the Department’s extensive efforts over the last year to engage the worker and employer communities on the proposed rules.

We understand that there is broad agreement that the overtime wage standards need to be updated. The Department, workers, and employers spent extensive hours discussing the proposed rules. We support this movement by the Department to set the overtime threshold more in line with their historical levels and to have a long phase-in period that helps smaller businesses make a transition. While it is inevitable that not everyone will agree with the final rules, we are confident that the Department will follow all rulemaking guidelines and enact sound rules that will fairly update the current overtime standards.

In addition to Keiser and Sells, the letter is signed by Sens. Steve Conway, Jeannie Darneille, Mona Das, Manka Dhingra, Bob Hasegawa, Sam Hunt, Patty Kuderer, Marko Liias, Liz Lovelett, John McCoy, Emily Randall, Marcus Riccelli, Rebecca Saldaña, Jesse Salomon, Derek Stanford, and Claire Wilson; and Reps. Sherry Appleton, Lisa Callan, Eileen Cody, Laurie Dolan, Debra Entenman, Jake Fey, Joe Fitzgibbon, Roger Goodman, Mia Gregerson, Christine Kilduff, Steve Kirby, Shelley Kloba, Debra Lekanoff, John Lovick, Nicole Macri, Jared Mead, Melanie Morgan, Timm Ormsby, Lillian Ortiz-Self, Tina Orwall, Strom Peterson, Kristine Reeves, Marcus Riccelli, June Robinson, Cindy Ryu, Sharon Shewmake, Vandana Slatter, Monica Jurado Stonier, Gael Tarleton, and Javier Valdez.

They join Gov. Jay Inslee in supporting the restoration of overtime pay rights.

“Washington state is stepping up to protect workers where the federal government has not,” Inslee wrote in a column that appeared in The Stand. “Updating our decades-old overtime rule is one sensible step towards helping more workers share in our economic prosperity.”

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!

For more background information about the proposed rule, click here.

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