From Civic Action <[email protected]>
Subject Working people just scored a huge victory
Date December 17, 2020 9:53 PM
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"Washington Supreme Court: Farmworkers to get overtime pay"

Should all farmworkers be paid overtime?

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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a Depression-era law that is foundational to modern work. It created the 40-hour work week, a federal minimum wage, a time-and-a-half overtime requirement, and prohibition on child labor. However, the 82-year-old law has glaring exemptions that negatively impact farmworkers and restaurant staff who receive tips.

The exemptions in the FLSA were put there in order to institutionalize racial inequality. During the conception of the FLSA, Southern farm owners, who were predominantly white, objected to farmworkers - who at the time were predominantly Black (now predominantly Latinx) - receiving time-and-a-half wages for jobs where they often toiled for 50 or 60 hours each week. So these farmers rallied their elected officials to refuse to pass the FLSA unless a racist exemption was made for overtime.

But here in Washington state, we've recently received HUGE news: An important ruling from the state Supreme Court just overturned this overtime exemption. In a 5-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that Washington's dairy workers were entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over the 40-hour threshold - a ruling that is expected to extend to all farmworkers in the state.

The majority of the court ruled that farmworkers could not be exempted from overtime protections without a reason. The decision still allows the legislature to rewrite the law - so long as they give a reason why farmworkers don't deserve overtime - but they won't succeed as long as we keep the pressure on.

But even if we win this fight in Washington state, farmworkers across the country still toil in the worst conditions with no overtime protections. We can't stop fighting until all of them receive the protections they deserve.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Working people should be paid fairly for every hour they work, with no exceptions. Trickle-downers want you to think that rampant inequality is necessary for prosperity; we say that prosperity is achieved by maximizing the ability for people to participate in the economy. When more people have money, they can buy more products, and businesses can hire more people. Racist exclusions like those in the FLSA are a roadblock to this prosperity, which is why we need to get off the books. If you agree, help us get to 2,000 responses before 11:59 p.m.:

Should all farmworkers be paid overtime?

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