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A summit with leaders of the member states of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement in 2010.
Wikipedia Photo

Marcie Sillman talks with Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland about why she supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Then, Ross Reynolds talks with Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien about why he's raising concerns about the TPP.

Some legislators in Olympia say they're having second thoughts about exempting Western Hockey League teams from state labor laws.

According to the monthly update released Wednesday by Washington's Employment Security Department, the state’s unemployment rate stayed flat in February.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

A lawsuit against Seattle’s new $15 an hour minimum wage has failed its first test in court.

Lawyers for the International Franchise Association (IFA) and five local franchisees have sued the city, arguing the law discriminates against franchise businesses.

Washington State Capitol
Flickr Photo/Alan Cordova (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to state Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, about her bill that passed the state House that would amend the Equal Pay Act, ensuring that employers can't punish employees for talking about their salary.

Workers and labor activists demonstrate outside the U.S. District Courthouse in support of the city's $15 an hour minimum wage
KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Lawyers for the International Franchise Association and five local franchisees were in court Tuesday asking that portions of Seattle’s new $15-an-hour minimum wage law be barred from taking effect.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Lawyers for the city of Seattle will be in federal court Tuesday to defend the city’s new $15-an-hour minimum wage law.

The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department's monthly survey, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent. The latest strong data beat expectations and follow a robust jump the previous month — a sign that the nation's economy is finally picking up steam.

At the time of their accidents, Jeremy Lewis was 27, Josh Potter 25.

The men lived within 75 miles of each other. Both were married with two children about the same age. Both even had tattoos of their children's names.

Their injuries, suffered on the job at Southern industrial plants, were remarkably similar, too. Each man lost a portion of his left arm in a machinery accident.

Workers injured on the job are supposed to get guaranteed medical care and money to live on. Employers and their insurance companies pay for that.

And in return, employers don't get sued for workplace accidents. But this "grand bargain," as it's called, in workers' compensation, seems to be unraveling.

Marcie Sillman talks with Kristin Rowe Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising, about gender pay equity and other issues facing women in the workplace. 

The Washington House is expected to vote this week on a $12 per hour minimum wage.

File photo of Seattle University.
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Seattle University adjunct instructor Larry Cushnie about why he's advocating for improved working conditions for adjunct faculty at Seattle University.

Marcie Sillman speaks with KUOW reporter Sara Lerner about Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's new parental leave program for city workers.

Sillman also interviews Brigid Schulte, reporter for the Washington Post and author of the book, "Overwhelmed: Work Love And Play When No One Has The Time," about how the US compares to the rest of the world when it comes to family leave policies.

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

Marcie Sillman talks to Kevin Klowden, managing director of the California Center at the Milken Institute, about the long-term impact of the slowdown at the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle. The slowdown ended over the weekend after nine months of contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

File photo of the Port of Seattle.
Courtesy of the Port of Seattle

Ross Reynolds talks with Peter Tirschwell about how the ongoing labor dispute between longshoremen and west coast port operators could drive away business from the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Tirschwell is chief content officer for The Journal of Commerce.

The worsening labor dispute at West Coast container ports is causing shippers to search for alternate pathways to and from Asia.

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.

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