"time to myself has become a more precious commodity to me"

I work as an engineer. My main responsibilities are creating solutions for a variety of problems by designing systems to deliver cancer-treating radiation, or unmanned aerial vehicles that can detect people and equipment that are a threat to security, or portable biological mini-laboratories that can keep deep-sea creatures alive for study on a research vessel, or delivery systems that will get life-saving drugs to hard-too-access locations using remote operated vehicles.

The way my schedule works, I’m working what ought to be overtime more than half the time at my job — it’s about 45 - 50 hours most weeks, with the occasional push to 60 or more. There’s no extra pay for the extra hours, but sometimes we can flex our schedules to make up for some of it. But the extra hours happen so often that you can never really make up for it.

It’s hard to say no to the extra hours. We work on projects like wildlife protection, anti-poaching, disease outbreak containment and such, so there’s a lot of passion in the work. I wouldn’t say that the company takes advantage of that exactly, but there’s a bigger system here that’s very abusive to workers, and that’s bigger than one employer. That’s why we need to expand overtime rights statewide!

What it comes down to is that I have more days behind me than in front of me, and I want to have time to enjoy my life unburdened by work issues and problems. I'm exchanging the limited hours if my existence for the ability to afford both essentials and luxuries. That creates a fine balance between working to live and living to work. And my employer gets greater benefit from my effort than I do. So time to myself has become a more precious commodity to me.

If my employer had to pay time-and-a-half when I worked over 40, they'd have to respect my time. That would mean either more time to spend on my non-work pursuits, or more money to make my life outside of work more comfortable.”

— F.W., engineer, Seattle