Features

Washington’s Minimum Wage Going Up Again to $9.47, Tops in the U.S.

by BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

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.

State Government’s Biggest Union Ratifies Contracts for Pay Raises Totaling 4.8% Over Two Years

by BRAD SHANNON | Tacoma News Tribune

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.

Inslee Pushes Ahead on New Pollution Rules

by John Stang | Crosscut

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.

Unions Vow Legislative Action after Boeing Slashes Jobs; Defense Workers in Kent, Tukwila Affected

by Steven Goldsmith | Puget Sound Business Journal

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.

Task Force Proposing New Taxes for State Parks

by AP | Columbian

The report from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation recommends a sales tax on bottled water and an excise tax on motor homes and travel trailers. They could collect $100 million in the next two-year budget.

Teamsters Win Arbitration Award Giving Corrections’ Employees 9.8% Raises Over Two Years

by BRAD SHANNON | Olympian

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.

Robert Reich: How to Fight for Economic Fairness in Seattle and Beyond

by Josh Cohen | Crosscut

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.”

Republicans Could Gain a Better Grip on Legislature

by Chris Vance | Crosscut

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.

Report: Unneeded Tests Putting Patients at Risk

by Carol M. Ostrom | Seattle Times

Patients in Washington are getting unnecessary diagnostic exams and treatments, risking potentially dangerous radiation and bigger bills, according to the first statewide report in the nation to gather county-by-county statistics.