“These overtime protections will ensure that agricultural workers in Washington are paid for all of the vital work they do,” President Joe Biden said.
On Nov. 5, 2020, a Washington Supreme Court ruled that farmworkers are entitled to get paid overtime. Yesterday, on the heels of that historic ruling, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5172, which would grant farmworkers overtime pay.
According to The Associated Press, SB 5172 will create a phased-in path toward full overtime pay for agricultural workers by 2024. For 2022, they ensure overtime pay for any time worked over 55 hours a week; 48 hours a week in 2023; and 40 hours a week by 2024.
President Joe Biden congratulated Gov. Inslee for doing the right thing by allowing an estimated 200,000 farmworkers in Washington to have the opportunity to get overtime pay.
“Agricultural workers in Washington and across the country have helped carry our nation through this pandemic—working long hours, often at great personal risk, to meet the needs of their communities and keep America healthy and well-nourished,” Biden said in a statement. “These overtime protections will ensure that agricultural workers in Washington are paid for all of the vital work they do.”
Inslee said that Washington has more than 30,000 farms that produce over 300 different commodities, many of them picked and processed by hand.
Washington is the latest state to ensure farmworkers get overtime pay, joining New York, California, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Maryland.
In addition to signing the overtime bill, Gov. Inslee signed a package of bills that will increase worker safety protections and expand support for frontline workers during a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Bill 1097 protects workers who report workplace hazards from retaliation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new focus on the challenges faced by frontline workers,” Inslee said yesterday during a press conference.
The legislation also establishes a grant program for small employers during a public health emergency. The costs of additional safety and health measures during the pandemic have proven to be a significant challenge for employers, Inslee added.
Washington Sen. Karen Keiser attended the historic signing with Inslee. Yesterday she tweeted: “I was so honored to work with United Farm Workers’ members like Ana who has worked in the fields for 16 years and is still fighting for justice. Our new overtime pay law is also another step for racial justice.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.