Aug. 16--Vancouver workers, business owners, unions and business organization representatives gathered Thursday for a public hearing on a proposed set of changes to Washington's rules governing salaried, overtime-exempt workers.

The changes have the potential to affect workers across many industries, and that was reflected in the audience of roughly 70 people who attended the hearing at Clark College's Columbia Tech Center building.

The proposed changes would alter several criteria for whether salaried employees can be considered overtime exempt, meaning an employer does not need to pay them extra if they work more than 40 hours in a given week.

The biggest change would be to raise the minimum required salary for exempt workers from its current rate of $13,000 per year, which was set in 1976, to a new rate of 2.5 times the state's minimum wage. The minimum wage is set to be adjusted annually based on the consumer price index starting in 2021. (Washington's minimum wage is currently $12 per hour, so if the proposed rule was currently in place, it would affect exempt workers making $62,400 or less.)

The Department of Labor and Industries released a public draft of its proposed rule changes in June. The Vancouver meeting was the last in a series of six public hearings that the department has held throughout the state.

___ (c)2019 The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.) Visit The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.) at www.columbian.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.