labor

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

Marcie Sillman talks with Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien about the potential impact of the $15 minimum wage on Seattle's manufacturing sector.

Marcie Sillman talks with Washington state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, about his proposal to offer the federal minimum wage as opposed to the higher state minimum wage for newly employed teens working in the summer months.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation officials Tuesday made public their plan to improve safety for workers in the so-called “tank farms.”

If you're a Northwest camper, chances are some of your gear, like your camp stove or sleeping pad, was manufactured in Seattle by Cascade Designs.
Flickr Photo/Tom Check (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with David Burroughs, vice chairman of Cascade Designs, about how Seattle's rising minimum wage is affecting his business.

Port of Seattle, port, stadium, Century Link
Flickr Photo/ArtBrom (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with KUOW reporter Carolyn Adolph to get the latest upates on the labor dispute that shut down Seattle ports over the weekend.

Also, Ross Reynolds interviews John Ahlquist, co-author of the book, "In the Interest of Others: Organizations and Social Activism,” which looks at the history of the longshoremen and the union's involvement in politics. Ahlquist is a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Port of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/SLV Native (CC-BY-NC-ND)

All ports on the West Coast will be closed for business this weekend – a response to ongoing worker slowdown, said a spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association.

The association represents the 29 terminal operators on the West Coast.

“After three months of union slowdowns, it makes no sense to pay extra for less work,” said spokesman Wade Gates. “Especially if there is no end in sight to the union’s actions which needlessly brought West Coast ports to the brink of gridlock.”

Paid sick leave and a boost in the minimum wage are among the top priorities of organized labor in Washington state this year.

Labor activists from the group Working Washington surround eight protesters who have linked arms in a busy Bellevue intersection Sept. 9, 2014. They were protesting for a raise in the minimum wage.
KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Ross Reynolds talks with the president of Washington State Labor Council, Jeff Johnson, about his legislative priorities. We also hear from KUOW's Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about how proposals like mandatory paid sick leave and a higher minimum wage might fare in Olympia. 

Union members marched yesterday in support of taking a vote on the latest Boeing contract offer. Weakened unions have chipped away at the middle class in King County.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

  Earlier this month at an economic conference, King County Executive Dow Constantine made a startling point: Less than 5 percent of the households added to King County since the year 2000 were middle income.

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.

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