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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.

Ross Reynolds talks with John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, about the role of federal mediators in settling labor disputes.

Costco
Flickr Photo/Mike Mozart (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Erik Nicholson, vice president of the United Farm Workers Union, about the Equitable Food Initiative, a new labeling system to ensure food safety and create better working conditions for farmer workers.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

Sixty-four people died on the job in Washington state in 2014, more than in any of the past three years, according to preliminary figures from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. The fatal incidents varied widely, from an ironworker falling off a roof on Jan. 6 to a logging truck driver being run over by his own truck on Dec. 30.

Inside Everett's Boeing factory.
Flickr Photo/Jetstar Airways (CC-BY-NC-ND)

It was a year of soaring profits for Boeing and Microsoft, rapid expansion for Amazon and anguish for Boeing machinists. KUOW's economy reporter Carolyn Adolph tells Bill Radke how the Puget Sound region's major employers fared in 2014.

A container ship at the Port of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Bari Bookout (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Bill Mongelluzzo, senior editor at the Journal of Commerce, about the labor dispute between the longshoremen's union and the Pacific Maritime Association at West Coast ports.   

Laurie Fendrich took a buyout from Hofstra University to retire when she was 66-years-old. In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fendrich argues that other college professors should follow her example because remaining on faculty indefinitely is bad for students and universities.

The company building pontoons for the new Highway 520 Floating Bridge in Seattle has been slapped with a six-digit fine.

The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries says Kiewit General willfully disregarded safety concerns.

KUOW's Lisa Brooks reports, it's because of a crane failure at the company's Aberdeen construction site last June.

TRANSCRIPT

Video was rolling that day, when the lug for a concrete counterweight for a tower crane broke loose, causing the 13,000-pound weight to plunge to the ground.

The choice of Qatar as host for the Soccer World Cup in 2022 continues to cause controversy.

Bribery and corruption allegations about the original bid refuse to go away and human rights activists have criticized Qatar’s treatment of the vast migrant workforce employed in construction projects.

But what is the responsibility of the international companies who were awarded massive contracts in Qatar?

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

Ross Reynolds talks with Harold Meyerson,  journalist and editor of The American Prospect, about the future of organized labor and Seattle's $15 minimum wage movement.

An Amazon warehouse.
Flickr Photo/Scott Lewis (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks to Spencer Soper, reporter for Bloomberg News, about the complaints Amazon warehouse workers lodge against the company.

"Product of Mexico" — it's a label you see on fruit and vegetable stickers in supermarkets across the U.S.

It's also the name of an investigative series appearing this week in the Los Angeles Times.

Ross Reynolds talks with Richard Hollinger, a criminology professor at the University of Florida, about how retailers are protecting themselves from employees, who steal more than shoplifters do. Today, the Supreme Court rules that Amazon does not have to pay its warehouse workers for time spent waiting to go through security checks after their shifts.

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

Ross Reynolds talks with Eric Schinfeld about how Washington business are being affected by a work slowdown at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Schinfeld is oresident of the Washington Council on International Trade.

Then, Marcie Sillman gets reaction from International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokesperson Craig Merrilees.

In the Bolivian city of El Alto on a recent day, youngsters shout out the destinations of departing buses to lure passengers.

One of these barkers is 15-year-old Luis Canaza. He earns about 12 cents for every bus he fills.

Canaza says he began working at age 7, helping his parents sell tennis shoes. On weekends, he performs clown shows.

All told, an estimated 850,000 Bolivian children work. They sell food and clothes at outdoor markets. They mine silver and harvest sugar cane.

Shift work has been known to affect workers’ sleep patterns and has also been associated with increased health problems, including ulcers, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

And now, a new study published in the journal “Occupational & Environmental Medicine” shows that long-term shift work can cause cognitive deficiencies.

Robert Reich at the University of Iowa, Sep. 7, 2011
Wikipedia Photo

Former Clinton-era Labor Secretary Robert Reich visited Seattle recently to encourage supporters of the 15Now campaign and to try to win over skeptics.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Marcie Sillman talks to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray about his new Labor Standards Office and the city's  budget priorities.

Flickr Photo/ghindo

Rollout of Seattle's $15 minimum wage is still half a year away, and Seattle's auditor says the city is already learning lessons about how to enforce workplace laws.

The Secret Lives Of Teachers

Oct 20, 2014

So where do they go, all the teachers, when the bell rings at 3 o'clock?

When you're a kid, you don't really think they go anywhere. Except home, maybe, to grade papers and plan lessons and think up pop quizzes.

And when you find out otherwise, it's a strange experience. Many people remember it vividly: the disorienting feeling of encountering your teacher in the grocery store, or in the line at McDonald's, talking and acting just like other grownups. A jarring reminder that they have lives outside the classroom.

Job growth stalled during September in Oregon and Washington according to new numbers from the respective state employment departments.

Amazon To Hire 80,000 Holiday Workers

Oct 15, 2014

An increase in customer demand is spurring Amazon.com to create 80,000 seasonal positions at its network of distribution centers across the U.S.

That's a 14 percent increase over the number of temporary workers it hired last year at this time.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

If today is a typical day in the United States, about 200 hospital patients will die with an infection they picked up while they were in the hospital.

Only one patient in the United States has ever died of Ebola, and many deadly diseases spread much more easily than Ebola.

Burnout at work seems like a fact of life, especially with employers cutting back on leave benefits.

But some companies are trying novel fixes. In addition to boosting morale, some employers say, eliminating burnout can increase productivity and profitability.

At Aptify, a Virginia software company, burnout was a problem a few years ago. Projects demanded long hours, which affected motivation and morale. It's a medium-size firm, with 200 workers, but at the time, procedures seemed overly corporate and cumbersome.

Washington state employees have not had a cost-of-living raise in six years. But that could change in the next budget cycle.

Ross Reynolds talks with Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of fraud prevention and labor standards at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, about how the state is working to address worker misclassification and other types of wage fraud.

The latest reading on unemployment in Washington state shows the rate holding steady in August at 5.6 percent. That's half a percentage point below the national rate according to a report from Washington's employment department Wednesday.

The Western Hockey League opens its regular season next weekend. The players you'll see on the ice are mostly teenagers. That fact has state labor investigators asking if the four Washington teams are breaking child labor laws.

The Politics Of Calling In Sick

Sep 2, 2014

Got the flu? Or a new baby? Perhaps a little one with chicken pox? In most countries, your employer must pay your wages if you stay home sick or to care for others. Not in America.

But a growing grass-roots movement aims to change that — starting with paid sick leave.

Already the movement has met some success. This past weekend, California became the second state in the country to mandate sick leave for employees.

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