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What distinguishes a contractor from an employee? The Washington State Supreme Court is deliberating that question now. The decision could have big implications, because businesses increasingly rely on contractors.

Amy Radil

The Seattle City Council took up Mayor Ed Murray’s minimum wage proposal Thursday. Labor leaders said they weren’t thrilled about the council's opening questions.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

As the Seattle City Council continues to debate a plan to phase in a $15 minimum wage, and as minimum wage advocates gather signatures to put an even stronger measure on the November ballot, businesses in the city are finding themselves in an uncomfortable position: in limbo.

Can The Promise Of Opportunity Reduce Crime?

May 19, 2014
Robert Crutchfield's book "Get a Job."

Steve Scher talks to UW Sociology professor Robert Crutchfield about the research in his new book ,"Get A Job: Labor Markets, Economic Opportunity, And Crime."

One argument for raising the minimum wage is that better pay will tie a person to the work in a positive way. More pay could give a worker hope that they will be able to  build a better life for themselves and their family. Research shows that  kids will pick up on that hope and be less likely to commit crimes. 

Crutchfield  has worked as a parole agent and a juvenile probation officer. His research focuses on the connections between labor markets, economic opportunity and crime. Basically, he says, a good job reduces crime. 

KUOW/John Ryan

Minimum-wage activists launched their signature-gathering campaign for a ballot initiative outside the downtown Seattle McDonald's Thursday.

Flickr Photo/University of Michigan's Ford School (CC-BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde interviews Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for the Obama Administration, about the proposed minimum wage hike in Seattle. 

Steady job gains are chipping away at the unemployment rate in Washington state.

Special: Stakeholders, Listeners Discuss Minimum Wage

May 14, 2014
Demonstrators in Seattle form a human chain around City Hall in support of a $15 minimum wage in April 2014.
KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Steve Scher sits down with three stakeholders in the minimum wage debate: James Parker, a volunteer for the organization 15Now, who currently makes $12 an hour; Howard Wright, co-founder of the Seattle Hospitality Group and co-chair of the mayor's Income Inequality Advisory Committee; and Judith Gille, founder and  co-owner of City People's Mercantile and Garden Store.

Scher asks his panelists to discuss how we got to this point, the mayor's proposal to reach a $15 minimum wage and how that wage would impact their lives. We also take your calls.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

David Hyde speaks with KUOW reporter Deborah Wang, who attended Seattle City Council's public hearing on the minimum wage Tuesday night.

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

State auditors say Western State Hospital has been losing about $800,000 a year paying for work that's not being done. For decades, the hospital has been letting hundreds of employees start late and leave early -- and still paying for their time.

Flickr Photo/Ronald Woan (CC-BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde speaks with Seattle chef and restaurant owner Tom Douglas about a proposed hike to the minimum wage in the city.

Flickr Photo/Sally Clark

David Hyde talks to Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark about what happens next with the minimum wage proposal released by Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee Thursday.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Seattle’s minimum wage could increase to $18.13 an hour within the next decade, according to Mayor Ed Murray's office.

Speaking at Town Hall on Thursday, Murray said that large businesses would have to pay their employees $15 an hour in three years.

Flickr Photo/Ed Murray

David Hyde speaks with David Rolf and Howard Wright, the co-chairs of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee, about how they finally came to a deal on a minimum wage proposal.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

David Hyde talks with Erica C. Barnett, news editor at PubliCola, about what must happen next for Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's minimum wage proposal to pass the City Council.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Marcie Sillman speaks with Jesse Lessinger, an organizer for 15Now, about Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's proposal to gradually increase the minimum wage.

The Idaho Department of Labor is holding a session this week to help hundreds of people in north Idaho who will lose their jobs when Coldwater Creek goes out of business.

Journalist Urges Caution In Minimum Wage Debate

Apr 29, 2014
Flickr Photo/The All-Nite Images

David Hyde talks with Seattle journalist and New York Times contributor Timothy Egan about Seattle’s impact on the minimum wage movement in other parts of the country.

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and his Income Inequaltiy Committee have not yet reached an agreement in raising the minimum wage.

Murray was expected to announce an initial proposal for the City Council at a press conference Thursday afternoon, but said that though the committee had reached an agreement in principle, there was not yet a viable proposal.

Miriam Pawel's book, "The Crusades of Cesar Chavez."

Ross Reynolds talks with Miriam Pawel about her new book, “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography."

Chavez was the most influential Latino civil rights leader in American history. In the 1960s, he led migrant farm workers into a powerful force and national movement to boycott grapes.

But in his later years, the effort flagged, and Chavez's flaws became apparent. Pawel examines the man in full.

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

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is expected to announce his proposal for a minimum wage increase Thursday afternoon after his advisory committee was unable to reach a consensus.

David Hyde talks with Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata about why he's pushing for better enforcement of labor standards in Seattle.

Flickr Photo/Victoria Pickering

The latest figures show the unemployment rate in Washington state is holding steady at 6.3 percent. The Employment Security Department said the state added an estimated 6,700 jobs in March. The biggest job gains last month were seen in professional and business services.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A Seattle group seeking a $15 minimum wage has filed paperwork to put the issue to voters. The move aims to increase pressure on Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council to pass a measure this year.

Flickr Photo/Terry Johnston (CC BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde talks with writer Buzz Bissinger about the National Labor Relations Board decision to allow football players at Northwestern University to form a labor union.

Flickr Photo/Chris Blakeley (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Seattle Public Schools has rescinded staffing cuts it planned to make at schools across the district.

Superintendent Jose Banda said after analyzing the supplemental budget the Legislature passed last week, the district won’t need to reduce the hours of many secretaries, counselors and other employees.

From Dominic Holden's Twitter account.

Marcie Sillman talks with Dominic Holden, associate editor at The Stranger about the very latest on the minimum wage debate in Seattle.

Who Had Richer Parents, Doctors Or Artists?

Mar 18, 2014

A few weeks ago, we were sitting around the office arguing over this simple question: Who had richer parents, journalists or people working in finance? Doctors or artists? More generally: What's the link between household income during childhood and job choice during adulthood?

Jake Rosenfeld's book "What Unions No Longer Do."

Ross Reynolds talks with University of Washington sociology professor Jake Rosenfeld about his book, “What Unions No Longer Do."

After World War II, one in three workers belonged to a union. Today, only one in 20 people employed in the private sector are in unions. Rosenfeld argues the decline of unions has helped lead to a rise in inequality.

KUOW Photo/Deb Wang

The push to raise the minimum wage in Seattle was just a campaign slogan last fall. But now it's on a fast track. Mayor Ed Murray has said that he will propose a minimum wage increase this spring.

But many of the people who would be affected are just starting to assess the costs and benefits.

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