OLYMPIA — The House voted 91-7 Friday afternoon to grant all Washington farmworkers time-and-a-half pay after 40 hours in a week beginning in 2024.
The House revised a Senate-passed bill to strengthen protections against back-pay lawsuits. The suits were filed after the state Supreme Court ruled in November that denying dairy workers overtime was unconstitutional.
The House left intact a Senate-approved phase-in of overtime for farmworkers.
Farmworkers will be paid overtime after 55 hours in a week beginning Jan. 1, 2022. The threshold will drop to 48 hours beginning Jan. 1, 2023, and then to 40 hours on Jan. 1, 2024.
The bill will make Washington's overtime law for agriculture comparable to California's.
Farm groups had sought a seasonal exemption, with the threshold rising to 50 hours for 12 weeks chosen by the farmer. Labor groups opposed the exemption, saying the new overtime law will prevent farmworkers from being overworked.
Some farmworkers said they feared that an overtime law that didn't recognize the seasonal nature of agriculture will cause farmers to trim hours, forcing them to take second jobs.
Washington Farm Bureau director of government relations Tom Davis noted after the vote Friday that the overtime law won't take full effect until 2024. "We're thinking that by then farmworkers will be able to tell their stories to legislators," he said.