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Should SeaTac’s voter-approved $15 per hour minimum wage apply to workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport? Washington’s Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on that question today.

The case pits airport vendors, Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle against supporters of the higher wage.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington state businesses are following with growing anxiety a debate in the other Washington over the future of the Export-Import Bank. Today, members of a Congressional committee are holding a hearing on whether the obscure federal agency amounts to corporate welfare.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Port of Seattle Commission has introduced a plan to set a higher minimum wage for workers at Sea-Tac International Airport.

The resolution would lift the minimum wage to $11.22 per hour this coming January, then increase the wage to $13 by 2017. The port would also require employers to provide paid days off to their workers.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

It’s been almost six months since some transportation and hospitality workers in the city of SeaTac got a raise to $15 an hour, but ground crew workers at the airport haven’t received that raise because of a county judge’s ruling.

David Cravioto

Even as the summer berry season gets underway, some of the workers who pick those berries have been battling with a Skagit County farm in court. They’ve challenged Sakuma Brothers Farms over its new policy to no longer provide housing for workers’ family members. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The unemployment rate in Washington state is holding steady at 6.1 percent, according to the latest numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Department.

State labor economist Paul Turek says the pace of job gains slowed down in the month of May, but Washington is still on course to record the strongest year of employment growth since the Great Recession.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The owner of an African hair-braiding salon has filed a suit against the state Department of Licensing in the latest move by a cottage industry that has fought to limit what they call unnecessary regulations.

Courtesy of Port of Seattle

Can two airlines be partners and rivals at the same time? Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines are long-term contractual allies. But now the relationship is being tested.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia just announced it will start accepting bitcoin for hotel bookings. The online travel site is embracing the volatile, virtual currency on what it calls a "test-and-learn" basis.

Effective as of Wednesday, the digital currency will be a payment option, but only for hotel bookings on the company's U.S. site. 

Bellamy Pailthorp

Sakuma Brothers Farms, one of Washington state’s largest berry farms, has agreed to pay $850,000 to settle a lawsuit filed its workers.

The berry pickers sued last year, alleging they were denied rest breaks and weren’t paid for all the hours they worked. The lawyers representing the pickers said this is the state's largest settlement involving farmworker wages and hours on record.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The union that represents home care workers across Washington state is calling for a new contract that phases in a $15-an-hour minimum wage. They’re hoping Seattle’s recent vote to gradually hike the wage floor will help bolster their argument. 

A Seattle apartment development company that has been building so-called aPodments will have to retrofit one of its complexes to make the building accessible for people with disabilities following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

APodments are micro-housing developments that have been springing up around Seattle in the past couple of years. They consist of a number of small apartments with shared kitchens and common areas. 

Centro LLC is the owner and developer of the building in question, a 56-unit Capitol Hill property managed by Calhoun Property Management.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

People in Seattle are familiar with the H-1B visa program that brings high-tech employees from abroad, but another, more obscure foreign worker program has churned up a lot of controversy in the state recently.

Bellamy Pailthorp

After a tumultuous year in which berry pickers at a Skagit County farm went on repeated strikes, a new group appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee is set to start tackling farm labor issues. 

AP Photo

The Seattle City Council on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour, the highest in the nation.

Starting on April 1, 2015, the clock will begin ticking for Seattle-based employers to boost their minimum wage workforce up to $15 per hour. Raises will be phased in over the next three to seven years, depending on how large the business is and what other benefits it offers. 

Brett Davis / Washington Farm Bureau

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle’s low-wage workers are closer to getting a raise. A city council committee unanimously voted to pass Mayor Ed Murray’s minimum wage plan, with some amendments.

Even Socialist city council member Kshama Sawant, who’s criticized the measure as too watered down, said it’s a victory for workers. 

The plan phases in a $15-an-hour minimum wage over a period of three to seven years, depending on how big the business is. City council members considered a number of amendments, including one to push the initial start date to April 1st next year instead of January 1st. That measure passed.

Rae Ellen Bichell / KPLU

Amazon's latest innovations weren't the draw for security guards who attended the company's annual shareholders' meeting Wednesday to address CEO Jeff Bezos directly about workers' rights. 

Among those gathered was security officer Daivon Young, who works for a company called Security Industry Specialists and is hired to guard Amazon headquarters. 

Ann Heisenfelt / AP Photo

A new report says the government failed to properly test the lithium-ion batteries on the Boeing 787 and relied too much on the company for technical expertise.

The National Transportation Safety Board Thursday criticized the process used by the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the new jet in 2007. It also recommends that FAA look outside the aviation industry for independent technical expertise.

Courtesy of Seth Holmes

Seth Holmes is a doctor and anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley who did something that wouldn’t occur to most white, middle-class, highly-educated Americans.

About a decade ago, he spent a year and a half traveling, living with and working alongside migrant indigenous Mexican farmworkers from the state of Oaxaca. His stint included two seasons picking strawberries and blueberries on a large farm in Skagit County.

Getting your startup company funded can be tough no matter what, but women entrepreneurs may face the additional challenge of overcoming gender bias.

A Seattle-based angel investing group called ZINO Society is holding its first-ever investment forum dedicated solely to women business owners. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Editor's note: The story has been updated to clarify that the berry pickers formed a workers' association. They did not form a union by holding an election under the National Labor Relations Act.

Berry pickers who went on strike at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Skagit County several times last year have filed a suit against the company, alleging retaliation. The workers say Sakuma has blacklisted many of them from working this summer as payback for their walkouts.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

New housing starts are a key economic indicator, but not all new houses are created the same. A new report issued Friday shows Washington and Oregon are following a national shift away from single-family homes toward more apartment complexes.

Multi-family buildings, defined as those with five housing units or more, make up more than one-third of new residential construction in both states. The number has nearly doubled over the past decade.

Labor activists plan to rally today at the University of Washington Tacoma campus on behalf of the school’s janitorial workers. They’re drawing attention to the cleaning staff’s lack of benefits and low pay.

Steady job gains are chipping away at the unemployment rate in Washington state. New numbers released by the Employment Department Wednesday show the statewide jobless rate dropped to 6.1 percent in April, down from 6.3 percent in March. 

The vast majority of new jobs are being created in the Seattle metro area. In the last reporting month, the jobless rate in 87 percent of Washington counties was higher than the national average.

Northwest sweet cherry growers say they'll likely pick 20 million boxes full — their third largest haul ever — this season. But there’s plenty that can happen to cherries before then, even on the day of harvest.

Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah grow about two-thirds of the nation’s sweet cherries. And this year, demand should be even higher for those candy-like fruit as a result of the dismal cherry growing weather in California. The continuing drought in that state and poor pollination has thinned out their crops. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Cruise season has begun in the Pacific Northwest with the arrival of gleaming cruise ships. They'll be steaming back and forth to Alaska all summer from Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. At the beginning and end of the cruise season, those large cruise ships also call on smaller Northwest ports such as Astoria, Port Angeles and Nanaimo, B.C.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

After a rare contested election, the incumbents have retained their posts at the top of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

International President Tom Buffenbarger kept the position he’s held since 1997 by a margin of two-to-one, according to preliminary results. About 23,500 members voted for Buffenbarger, and about 11,200 voted for IAM Reform candidate, Jay Cronk.

The number of farms in the Northwest is dropping, according to newly-released federal farm data.

But there's more to the story. The average size and value of Northwest farms are going up.

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