Washington’s minimum wage will go up by 15 cents to $9.47 an hour, affecting more than 67,000 workers, the state Department of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday. The increase is calculated each year, based on the rate of inflation, according to Initiative 688, which Evergreen State voters approved in 1998.
Members of the Washington Federation of State Employees ratified a contract Tuesday by a lopsided 3,698 to 481 margin, embracing a pay plan that provides general pay increases of 3 percent in July 2015 and at least 1.8 percent in July 2016. There are additional one-time pay adjustments of at least 2.5 percent for about 4,500 workers in select positions.
The Washington Department of Ecology unveiled its draft rules Tuesday, which are supposed to help lawmakers set limits on industrial discharges into state waterways. Inslee’s proposal also would allow individual facilities to seek variances on their industrial discharge permits. A variance would essentially give the facility a limited-time pass, while it brings itself into compliance.
Boeing union leaders reacted angrily Monday to the announcement that the company plans to move about 2,000 defense-related jobs out of Washington state. The Boeing engineers union said it will respond by calling on the Legislature to revisit Boeing tax breaks — an accountability measure that union leaders say lawmakers failed to do when handing over $8.7 billion in incentives to land the 777X project late last year.
A few more contracts for state employees are getting settled ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for putting contract costs into Gov. Jay Inslee’s next budget proposal. An arbitration ruling in favor of the Teamsters provides pay raises of 5.5 percent in July 2015 and another 4.3 percent in 2016 — with additional raises of 2.5 percent for select positions.
The former U.S. Secretary of Labor talks in Seattle about public anger and reversing the increasing concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of a few. “The biggest problem we have in our economy today is our vast middle class and the poor don’t have enough purchasing power to turn around and keep the economy going — which is why the economy is growing very slowly and why job growth is perilously slow.”
Low voter turnout and trends in national polls could make this a tough year on Democratic hopes for regaining control of Olympia. During the month of September, Republicans moved out to a clear 4 percent lead in national generic ballot polling. When you combine that with the fact that turnout will be extra low in Washington state due to the lack of a gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race at the top of the ticket, things begin to look very dicey for the Democrats.