labor

Manny has worked as a janitor at the UW for three years.  He says he makes about $14 an hour and would like a raise.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Janitors and custodians at the University of Washington plan to rally in the middle of campus Tuesday. Due to budget cuts, there’s now a smaller cleaning staff to cover the huge campus. Many janitors say they’re being asked to do more with less.

The Washington and Oregon employment departments have closed the book on 2014 with the release of their December jobs numbers.

In the post-WWII period, 40 percent of Americans were private sector union members. That number is now below 7 percent.

The reasons behind this drastic decline are hotly disputed. Union supporters say greedy corporations, helped by politicians, have worked systematically to bust the movement. Detractors say leadership corruption, improved labor laws and global competition served to make unions less relevant over time.  

As the Washington debate on how to reduce income inequality continues, President Obama laid out his plan in the State of the Union address. He called for universal, free community college, guaranteed paid sick leave and higher tax hikes on the wealthy.

The proposal is unlikely to pass in the new Republican-controlled House and Senate, but the speech set an agenda that both parties must now address.

Ross Reynolds moderates a debate on the role of public sector unions in a Seattle Town Hall debate January 13. Guests include Daniel DiSalvo, a critic and the author of, "Government Against Itself," and University of Washington political science professor Michael McCann, a supporter of public unions.

A popular gift now for Chinese New Year is a box of red apples from Washington. But Northwest shippers say a labor dispute at West Coast ports is jeopardizing that lucrative overseas market.

Ross Reynolds talks with John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, about the role of federal mediators in settling labor disputes.

Costco
Flickr Photo/Mike Mozart (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Erik Nicholson, vice president of the United Farm Workers Union, about the Equitable Food Initiative, a new labeling system to ensure food safety and create better working conditions for farmer workers.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

Sixty-four people died on the job in Washington state in 2014, more than in any of the past three years, according to preliminary figures from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. The fatal incidents varied widely, from an ironworker falling off a roof on Jan. 6 to a logging truck driver being run over by his own truck on Dec. 30.

Inside Everett's Boeing factory.
Flickr Photo/Jetstar Airways (CC-BY-NC-ND)

It was a year of soaring profits for Boeing and Microsoft, rapid expansion for Amazon and anguish for Boeing machinists. KUOW's economy reporter Carolyn Adolph tells Bill Radke how the Puget Sound region's major employers fared in 2014.

A container ship at the Port of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Bari Bookout (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Bill Mongelluzzo, senior editor at the Journal of Commerce, about the labor dispute between the longshoremen's union and the Pacific Maritime Association at West Coast ports.   

Laurie Fendrich took a buyout from Hofstra University to retire when she was 66-years-old. In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fendrich argues that other college professors should follow her example because remaining on faculty indefinitely is bad for students and universities.

The company building pontoons for the new Highway 520 Floating Bridge in Seattle has been slapped with a six-digit fine.

The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries says Kiewit General willfully disregarded safety concerns.

KUOW's Lisa Brooks reports, it's because of a crane failure at the company's Aberdeen construction site last June.

TRANSCRIPT

Video was rolling that day, when the lug for a concrete counterweight for a tower crane broke loose, causing the 13,000-pound weight to plunge to the ground.

The choice of Qatar as host for the Soccer World Cup in 2022 continues to cause controversy.

Bribery and corruption allegations about the original bid refuse to go away and human rights activists have criticized Qatar’s treatment of the vast migrant workforce employed in construction projects.

But what is the responsibility of the international companies who were awarded massive contracts in Qatar?

Demonstrators in Seattle form a human chain around City Hall in support of a $15 minimum wage in April 2014.
KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Ross Reynolds talks with Harold Meyerson,  journalist and editor of The American Prospect, about the future of organized labor and Seattle's $15 minimum wage movement.

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