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Nicole Grant's blackboard still shows the causes the M.L. King County Labor Council fought for this year and won. Then, Donald Trump won the election and the labor movement risks setbacks.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

The labor movement is preparing for conflict with the new Trump administration. The president-elect recently picked a fast food mogul as labor secretary who says the federal minimum wage should stay low, but labor’s fears extend much further than that.

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

Donald Trump’s pick as secretary of labor is a fast-food CEO. And that’s got labor leaders concerned.

Andrew Puzder heads the parent company for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. And he's against a proposal to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Newspaper box for the Seattle Times, 2012.
Flickr Photo/Mr.TinDC (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) http://bit.ly/2gKCGU9

“It’s not at all surprising.”

That was the reaction by David Boardman to the announcement by the Seattle Times that it will be reducing staff. The newspaper told staff in an email that it will be offering buyouts with the potential of layoffs after that.

President-elect Donald Trump's latest Twitter target is a local union official who questioned the billionaire's account of how many jobs he saved at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis.

Trump has previously used social media to browbeat companies that move jobs offshore as well as entertainers whose acts he finds tiresome.

On Wednesday, Trump took aim at Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999.

Trump wrote on Twitter that Jones "has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!"

File photo of Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Uber drivers packed themselves into a public hearing hosted by the City of Seattle Tuesday. The topic: an ordinance that lets drivers vote on whether to unionize.

The debate now is over which drivers will get to vote on whether to form a union. The city's proposal would give most drivers a vote, except those that only give a few rides a week.

Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.

For Tableau, a software company in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, the bohemian neighborhood is part of the recruiting spiel.
Flickr Photo/Scott Lum (CC BY-NC 2.0) http://bit.ly/2h3woD4

On hot summer Fridays, workers from the software company Tableau gather at a dock and jump in the water.


The Obama administration is challenging a federal judge's decision last month to block the implementation of a new rule that would have made 4 million more Americans eligible for overtime pay.

The Department of Labor and its co-defendants filed a notice of appeal at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Thursday, the same day that the rule was set to take effect before the temporary injunction was issued.

Artist Sara Porkalob in her Queen Anne apartment
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Jose Abaoag has an eclectic resume.

Iesha Gray, 20, resigned from her job at the U.S. Postal Service because she felt she wasn't given time or space she found acceptable to pump.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Iesha Gray called it the drought.

One month back from maternity leave, her breasts were empty. No more milk. Her baby girl at home was drinking her way through the freezer stash.

Brittany Johnson says the Freedom Foundation contacted her by mail to tell her she didn't have to be a member of SEIU. She said it was never clear how the right-wing organization got her information, and she wants her privacy.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

UPDATE 10/31/16, 2 p.m. 

On Friday the Washington state Attorney General’s Office said it filed a complaint in Thurston County Superior Court against the Freedom Foundation for campaign finance violations. The attorney general specifically said Freedom Foundation had failed to report its spending to oppose Initiative 1501.


Nicole Grant of the Martin Luther King Labor Council has a blackboard decorated with the initiatives and issues supported by the local labor movement.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Washington state has long had one of the highest minimum wages in the country. At $9.47, it is also one of the few minimum wages that can rise with the cost of living.

But then Seattle set a new bar for minimum wages. 


Washington state employers added 20,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis last month according to the latest numbers out Wednesday from the state’s Employment Security Department.

Elizabeth Allen was at a happy hour for a San Francisco tech firm a couple of years ago, when a co-worker started forcing himself on her and the few other women at the party — again and again.

He was "giving us lots of hugs," Allen says, "trying to kiss me a few times; he grabbed my butt a couple of times." The women were outnumbered by men, some of whom looked on, bemused, as the women tried to signal their distress.

KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

An initiative before voters in Seattle this November would put a panic button in every hotel worker’s hand.

It’s one of a series of protections for a potentially vulnerable group of workers. They do heavy work, often alone. They are mostly women, and many of them are immigrants learning English, making them a voice that can be hard to hear.


The U.S. economy generated 156,000 new jobs in September, according to the monthly jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The results did not meet expectations: Economists had predicted between 170,000 and 176,000 new jobs for September.

Add to the list of worrisome economic trends what economists call "NEETs" — young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training.

Their numbers are growing, now 40 million in the 35 member countries of the OECD — the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. And two-thirds of them are not actively looking for work.

The figures come from the biennial OECD report, Society at a Glance 2016.

Out of 193 countries in the United Nations, only a small handful do not have a national paid parental leave law: New Guinea, Suriname, a few South Pacific island nations and the United States.

In the U.S., that means a lot moms and dads go back to work much sooner after the birth of a baby than they would like because they can't afford unpaid time off.

Jody Heymann, founding director of the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA, says the global landscape for paid parental leave looks bright, but the U.S. is far behind.

Mike Cruse is the father of a new baby. His daughter Olivia was born in July. But like most fathers in the U.S., he doesn't get paid parental leave. That means his wife, Stephanie, will have to take care of the baby mostly herself — an already difficult task that may be even harder for her since she's dealing with postpartum anxiety.

Cruse, who manages the warehouse for a lighting company, had to take vacation days from his job to stay home and help for those first 10 days. Now he has no vacation left for the next calendar year.

On her first day back at work after giving birth, Tricia Olson drank copious amounts of coffee, stuffed tissues in her pocket, and tried not to cry. After all, her son Gus was just 3 weeks old.

Olson, 32, works for a small towing company and U-Haul franchise in Rock Springs, Wyo., and she could not afford to be away from work any longer.

"The house bill's not going to pay itself," she says, her voice breaking in an audio diary she kept as part of a series on the challenges facing working parents airing on NPR's All Things Considered.

There’s a lot of talk about “dark money” in politics these days. That’s money raised and spent by so-called “social welfare” organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors.

But sometimes these groups will reveal who’s giving them money -- if you ask.

Journalist Jessica Bennett speaks about her new book.
Courtesy of Harper Collins Publishing

It was a fight club – except without the fighting and without the men. Every month or so, a dozen of us – writers and creative types, producers and comedians, all women in our 20s and 30s living in New York City – would gather at a friend’s apartment (actually, her parents’ apartment: none of us had an apartment big enough to fit twelve people). 

Bill Radke speaks with Subway franchisee owner David Jones about secure scheduling rules passed by the city of Seattle on Monday. Jones says the new rules will make things much harder for businesses like his. 

KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Seattle’s City Council has passed a measure that will ensure workers' schedules are predictable. It’s the latest in a series of low wage worker protections the council has passed. There’s been the $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave, and restrictions on criminal background checks.

Bill Radke speaks with Josh Feit about the behind the scenes politics of the City Council vote on a new secure scheduling law. Feit is the politics editor at Seattle Met and editor of their local politics blog PubliCola. 

Labor journalist Sarah Jaffe
Courtesy of Julieta Salgado

When it comes to the future of good jobs and a contented workforce in the United States, the outlook is tenuous at best. Workers left in the wake of off-shoring, financial crises and game-changing robotic technology developments know that all too well.

Journalist Sarah Jaffe says community movements are a key to better outcomes. “For the people taking part in them it is not a question of left or right, but of the powerless against the powerful.”

Seattle is one step away from adding worker scheduling rules to its workplace laws. A City Council committee unanimously approved secure scheduling legislation Tuesday, forwarding it to a full council vote next Monday.

KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

Bill Radke sits down with Seattle University professor Nancy Burkhalter to talk about her experience as an adjunct, or part-time professor, at the university.

More than half of all professors in the U.S. are adjuncts, and they receive far fewer benefits than their tenured or tenure-track colleagues who are essentially guaranteed employment for life. 

Last week, Seattle University adjunct professors voted to unionize, and a union is expected to be certified sometime next week.

The boats are owned by Americans. They fly American flags and work in American waters. The fish they catch — like premium ahi tuna and swordfish — is sold at American grocery stores, on shelves at Whole Foods and Costco.

But the men who catch those fish can't set foot on American soil, The Associated Press reports — and they aren't protected by American labor laws.

At 4.9 percent, the nation's unemployment rate is half of what it was at the height of the Great Recession. But that number hides a big problem: Millions of men in their prime working years have dropped out of the workforce — meaning they aren't working or even looking for a job.

It's a trend that's held true for decades and has economists puzzled.

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