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Urge legislators to resist efforts to weaken new overtime pay rules

OLYMPIA (Jan. 21, 2020) — Last year, grassroots action by union members and community supporters helped restore overtime protections for salaried workers in Washington state. Our updated overtime protections will give hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians more time to spend with their family and friends, more overtime pay, or a little of both.

But before the rule’s eight-year phase-in takes its first step on July 1, 2020, corporate lobbyists and some nonprofit organizations have launched legislative efforts in Olympia to weaken the rule.

TAKE A STAND — Please click here to send an email to your Washington state legislators urging them to protect our newly restored state’s overtime pay standards. Warn them not to fall for attempts to weaken the rules. No one should be required to work for free, whether it’s at a for-profit company or a nonprofit organization.

BACKGROUND — Under the new rules announced in December, salaried workers who earn less than 2.5 times the Washington state minimum wage, or about $83,000 a year in 2028, will be guaranteed time-and-a-half pay for every hour they work over 40 each week.

“Washington now has the strongest overtime law in the nation,” said Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “This update is badly needed to restore overtime pay protections and to restore work-life balances in our state.”

Washington’s current salary threshold, under which time-and-a-half overtime pay is required, is less than $24,000 per year. It hasn’t been updated and adjusted for inflation since 1976. That means that — until 2020 — businesses and nonprofits in Washington have been able to declare employees salaried, pay them roughly the state minimum wage, and make them work for free for any hours beyond 40 in a week. During L&I’s three-month public hearing and comment period for the rule update, the state agency heard from many low-wage workers who are being forced to work 20 to 30 hours each week for free because of the outdated rules.

Beginning July 1, 2020, the overtime salary threshold in Washington will increase to $675 a week ($35,000 a year), which is 1.25 times the state minimum wage. It will be raised again incrementally each year until 2028 when it reaches 2.5 times the minimum wage, or approximately $1,603 a week (about $83,356 a year), according to L&I estimates.

“When employers can make you work extra hours for free, the workweek never ends and lives become a constant scramble,” Brown said. “It’s almost impossible for salaried workers denied overtime pay to maintain their health, care for their families, and make some time for themselves. 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.

“Most of us need to work to live, but nobody should be required to live only to work,” he added.

Please send a message to your legislators urging them to protect our state’s update overtime pay rules.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

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!