labor | KUOW News and Information

labor

Pop Your Blue Collar: The Evolution Of Blue Collar Work In The US

May 22, 2013
Flickr Photo/WSDOT

 In the past decade, blue collar jobs have diminished. But in the coming decade, that tide is expected to change. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an additional 2.7 million new blue collar jobs such as home health care aides and rebar and iron maintenance workers by 2020. Ross Reynolds talks with Tim Sweeney and Dan Jacoby about the future of blue collar work and education. 

Flickr Photo/Au Zut

In her green minivan, Angelica Villa navigates the farm roads north of Bellingham like a seasoned tour guide. She points out a cannery, a potato plant and miles of berry fields.  Villa previously worked at many of these places and she rattles off story after story about harassment on the job.

How Does Washington State Help Workers With Developmental Disabilities?

May 9, 2013
Flickr Photo/Tony Hall

Washington State’s Developmental Disabilities Administration helps people with disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy and down syndrome find work. The DDA serves nearly 9,000 adults over the age of 21.

Ross Reynolds interviews Dr. Pat Brown, director of the University of Washington’s employment program. Ross also talks with Doug Wilson, a sales manager at Copiers Northwest, who employs people with developmental disabilities and Shawn Christensen, a man with cerebral palsy who works at Regal Cinemas in Renton.

SEIU: Fastest Growing Union Holds Strong In Washington

Apr 30, 2013

Nationwide, the percentage of workers who are in unions has dropped to around 11 percent according to January report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That’s lowest rate in nearly a century. But the Service Employees International Union has been bucking the trend in recent decades – it’s the fastest growing union in the United States.

Since 1996, 1.2 million workers have joined SEIU nationally. Today, SEIU national represents 2.1 million.   Here in Washington state the SEUI has six locals with more than 100,000 members, up from about 40,000 in 2001. 

The union represents nurses, child care workers, public school employees and janitors.   Plus, Local 775 is the biggest, with around 43,000 members who are long-term care workers, home health aides, and nursing home aides.  

Ross Reynolds talks with David Rolfpresident of the Seattle-based Local 775 of the Service Employees International Union for health-care workers. 

Should Companies Be Allowed To Not Consider Candidates Who Smoke?

Apr 22, 2013
Fetmano / Flickr

In Washington state, it’s perfectly legal for employers to refuse to hire people who smoke. In 2006, state lawmakers tried but failed to join 29 other US states that made it illegal for employers to discriminate against smokers. 

According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, it’s legal for companies to ban smokers from their workforce because smokers are not protected by any wrongful termination laws.

Flickr Photo/Chuck Taylor

Boeing has announced it will lay off 800 machinists in the Puget Sound area this year. The company says workforce needs on two of its newest jet programs have been reduced.

Immigrant restaurant workers
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Next time you go out for a nice dinner, give a listen near the restaurant’s kitchen. Amid the bustle, there’s a decent chance you’ll hear chefs, cooks or dishwashers speaking Spanish.

What In The World Is Turkopticon?

Mar 20, 2013
Flickr Photo/Matt Wetzler

When we think of crowd sourcing, we often think about Wikipedia or Youtube, but  Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a different type of crowd sourcing.

Mechanical Turk is an online marketplace where employers can hire thousands of workers to complete tiny tasks such as identifying objects in a photo or editing a description.  Workers are offered no benefits and are not protected by minimum wage laws. They are paid per task, often as little as 20 cents, occasionally as much as $5. But sometimes, they aren’t paid at all.

Flickr Photo/ellenm1

Puget Sound Sage's latest report finds that Sea-Tac Airport has fallen behind when it comes to minimum worker pay when compared to some other West Coast airports.

How do Sea-Tac's wages compare to the national average, and if workers at the airport were to get raises who would bear the brunt of that cost? Ross Reynolds talks with Puget Sound Sage researcher and policy analyst Nicole Keenan.

BREWSTER, Wash. - There's one word that politicians almost always use when they talk about the U.S. immigration system. That word is “broken.” But what does that really mean? Residents of the small town of Brewster, Wash., know. For decades, immigrants have come from Mexico, often illegally, to work the surrounding apple and cherry orchards. Bewster, it turns out, is a microcosm of how the immigration debate is playing out.

More than 500 workers at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia are on strike.

Berkman Center for Internet & Society

The Mechanical Turk was a fake chess playing robot that fooled Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin. Today the Mechanical Turk is a service Amazon provides, linking workers with people who need tasks done. Some pay as little as a penny. Critics call Mechanical Turk a digital sweatshop. Ross Reynolds talks with Jonathan Zittrain, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, about working for points, Mechanical Turk and artificial-artificial intelligence.

A proposed bill in Olympia aims to crack down on employers who shortchange their workers. The measure would create harsher penalties for business that skimp on minimum wage, overtime pay, or just flat out fail to hand over a paycheck.

This type of  underpayment is often referred to as “wage theft.” Advocates of the bill, HB 1440, say the victims of wage theft tend to be low-income workers and undocumented immigrants.

Michael Boe
Courtesy/Karen Boe

Runners in a 5K race will wind through the grounds of the Monroe Correctional Complex on Sunday to remember Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl. Tuesday will mark the two years since Biendl was found strangled in the chapel at the prison.

Job growth continues to be sluggish, but there’s one big exception: temporary work.  The number of temp and contract jobs has increased by nearly 30 percent since early 2009, according to the American Staffing Association. 

Ross Reynolds takes a closer look at the new temping economy with Steven Greenhouse, the  labor reporter for The New York Times.

Northwest wheat growers are hoping for a swift resolution to a labor dispute that could keep their grain from reaching the world market. Grain terminals remain open in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle, even though the terminals' owners have implemented a contract offer unionized longshoremen rejected.

Most of the wheat that grows on the rolling hills of eastern Washington is bound for the international market. But to get there, the wheat passes through one of a handful of grain terminals in the Northwest.

Flickr Photo/Ryan Sitzman

Officials from the US Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Ecology hear public comment in Seattle this afternoon about a plan to build the largest coal export terminal on the West Coast near Bellingham. KUOW's Ashley Ahearn joins us with details. Then, we look at Michigan's new "right to work" legislation and the possible ripple effects in Washington state with University of Washington Professor Jim Gregory.

3 striking union members outside Hostess plant
KUOW/Deborah Wang

Striking members of a bakers’ union are still picketing a plant in Seattle that makes Hostess Twinkies and Ho Hos. That’s despite the fact the plant is now closed for good.

Flickr Photo/Pylon757

Negotiators for the Boeing Company and its engineering and technical union are back at the negotiating table today. That’s after union members soundly rejected the company’s latest contract offer.

More than 21,000 members of SPEEA, the Society For Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, voted by mail on the company’s contract proposal. When the votes were counted last night, 96 percent of engineers and 97 percent of technical workers had voted ‘no.’

Pages