Last night workers at dozens of Seattle fast food locations began a one-day strike over low wages. It’s the first in Seattle, but walkouts by fast food employees have been happening over the past several months in cities including New York and St. Louis. Alfonso Arellano, who works at the University District Taco Del Mar, tells KUOW’s Ross Reynolds his story.
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.
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.
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.
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 Rolf, president of the Seattle-based Local 775 of the Service Employees International Union for health-care workers.
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.
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.
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.
Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 10:57 am
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.
A long-standing state law in Washington gives working mothers up to 24 weeks off when they have babies. If you didn’t know, you must not have read the poster in your break room at work. You know, the one everyone is always leaning over and squinting at to find out what their rights are.
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.