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JSSWA Washington National Guard / Flickr

 (Updates to add that Rep. Adam Smith says he'll vote no.)

The U.S. House is expected to vote this week on a trade bill that’s drawn criticism from labor and environmental groups. It's known as the Trade Promotion Authority bill, and most of Washington state's Congressional delegation supports it. 

But now Democratic Reps. Denny Heck and Adam Smith say they'll join Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott in voting no. In doing so, they're standing up to President Barack Obama, who has urged passage of the bill.

BTC Keychain / Flickr

There’s long been a mystery surrounding the creation of Bitcoin, the anonymous, digital currency that emerged online in early 2009. The person who wrote the original code used the name Satoshi Nakamoto. He created a way to send a new kind of cash online without any intermediary, such as a bank.

But who is Satoshi Nakamoto? He communicated with other digital currency enthusiasts only by email – never in person or by phone. And then, in 2011, he stopped communicating altogether.

Ashley Gross / KPLu

A top Boeing executive says the airline industry is enjoying record profits because of increasing demand for air travel and a decline in oil prices.

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s vice president of marketing, sounded optimistic when he spoke with reporters in a briefing ahead of the Paris Air Show, which begins June 15th. Tinseth says air passenger traffic grew six percent last year, above the historical rate of five percent, and should grow six percent again this year.

The court battle over wait times for Washington jail inmates to get mental health competency exams is not over.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

It’s coming down to the wire for the Export-Import Bank, the federal agency that offers financing and loan guarantees to help U.S. businesses export goods. Some Republicans want to let the bank’s charter expire at the end of this month. 

Washington state businesses are paying close attention to this fight because Boeing is the biggest beneficiary of the Export-Import Bank. Reuters recently reported that Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said the company might have to shift engineering and manufacturing jobs overseas if the bank disappears. 

Tim VanReenen / Flickr

Forty percent of jobs in Washington state are tied to trade, but the issue of creating new free trade agreements is divisive.

The U.S. House is expected to vote this month on so-called fast-track trade authority, which would give the president the power to negotiate trade agreements and send them to Congress for an up or down vote. Lawmakers wouldn’t be able to amend those trade deals. The fast-track bill also spells out certain labor and environmental standards Congress wants.

U.S. Labor Department

 

The Seattle office charged with enforcing the $15 minimum wage law has hired Dylan Orr to be its new director. Before taking the job Orr was the first openly transgender person appointed by the Obama Administration, or any presidential administration.

 

For the past five years Orr has worked under two Labor Secretaries. He’s is a West Seattle native and University of Washington Law School graduate.

 

“Seattle is my home. It’s my heart,” says Orr.

Port of Tacoma / Flickr

The cargo shipping industry is in the midst of big changes and that’s prompting the ports of Seattle and Tacoma to forge an alliance.

Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero, the top regulator of the nation's ports, says the alliance is a "great idea."

Robert Karma / Flickr

The port of Seattle and airlines agree – improvements at the airport are needed to handle growing numbers of international passengers. But a central question remains:  who pays for the expansion? 

Traffic at Sea-Tac International Airport has been booming and is expected to keep climbing. But there’s dispute among airlines about how to pay for a new international arrivals facility, which would be a spot for people go through customs and pick up their baggage.

401(k) 2012 / Flickr

The city of Tacoma is trying to get business owners to settle their unpaid tax bills by offering a one-time amnesty that will let businesses off the hook for penalties and interest if they come forward and pay. 

Danielle Larson, tax and license manager for the city of Tacoma, says the city’s recently boosted enforcement of tax collections by adding three compliance officers. But she says the city council also wanted to give businesses a chance to come forward voluntarily and pay their liabilities without penalties.

Boeing

Even in this day and age, aviation is a male-dominated industry. But when Boeing delivered a new 737-900ER to United Airlines on Wednesday at King County International Airport, men were the ones in the minority – by design.

Workers at a South King County psychiatric hospital are walking off the job Thursday, one day after another unit of the same SEIU Healthcare local staged a one-day strike at a Bellingham hospital.

Nurses and other workers at Cascade Behavioral Health in Tukwila say they’re protesting stalled contract talks and inadequate staffing. Carol Myers, a detox unit nurse, says when the private company Acadia took over the former non-profit hospital, it cut staffing levels in the geriatric psych unit.

“These people are fall risks and incontinent and you need additional staff in order to keep these people clean. And that’s really overwhelming for the amount of staff that they’re given,” she says.

Cascade CEO Michael Uradnik says the staffing ratio is safe and up to industry standards. He says he’s still hopeful the sides can reach an agreement.

“I’d have preferred if they hadn’t done it, absolutely. Does it make me further entrenched and more bitter? No. This is part of what you want to do, that’s fine. It’s a one-day action. After [Thursday] we’re going to get down to negotiating again,” he says.

The hospital plans to remain open during the one-day strike, with replacement workers trained to step in.

Jeffrey Pott / Flickr

Many of us feel powerless about online security. When hackers can get around the defenses of giant corporations such as Target or J.P. Morgan Chase, it’s hard to imagine how regular folks stand a chance. But a new effort by AARP, Microsoft, the state attorney general’s office and the Federal Trade Commission aims to let people know what they can do.

KPLU asked Andrew Becherer, technical vice president for the computer security consulting company NCC Group, for three tips.

1.      Exercise “good password hygiene.”

That means you should have a different password for every account. Becherer says he knows that sounds daunting, but there are ways to keep track of all those passwords. One way is to use a password manager – software that stores all of your passwords for you. You just need to remember one password that gets you into the password manager.

Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Washington’s senior U.S. Senator, Patty Murray, is introducing a bill to phase in a $12-an-hour federal minimum wage by 2020, lifting the national wage floor up from the current $7.25. Her fellow Democrat, Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott, is sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives.

The effort is another attempt by Democrats to raise pay for the nation’s lowest earners. Last year, Republicans blocked legislation supported by President Barack Obama that would have hiked the minimum wage to $10.10 over a period of three years. Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz have argued that lifting the minimum wage would lead to job losses.

Bill Downing / Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

At an annual ceremony, the state remembered 89 workers who died on the job during the past two years.

The deaths ranged from ones in industries known as dangerous, such as logging and truck driving, to high-profile accidents such as the crash of a KOMO TV helicopter near Seattle’s Space Needle in March 2014, which killed the pilot Gary Pfitzner, 59, and photojournalist Bill Strothman, 60.

Scott Hingst / Flickr

Silicon Valley tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple have all been opening offices in Seattle in recent years.

Now, the City of Destiny wants in on the action. Tacoma recently paid $2,600 to run a quarter-page ad in the San Jose Mercury News, one of the biggest newspapers serving California's Silicon Valley, aimed at persuading tech companies that want to expand in the Pacific Northwest to look 35 miles south of Seattle.

AP Images

Amazon shares jumped more than 5 percent after the company provided results for its cloud-computing business for the first time and showed it to be more profitable than investors expected.

Profits have long been elusive for Amazon, and the company posted another loss in the most recent quarter. Amazon said it had a net loss of $57 million, or 12 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared with net income of $108 million, or 23 cents, a year earlier.

But now Amazon has provided financial details for its cloud division, known as Amazon Web Services, that allows businesses to use Amazon’s computers instead of running their own. AWS net sales totaled $1.57 billion, with an operating profit of $265 million.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing’s first-quarter earnings climbed 38 percent on strong demand for commercial airplanes. But the stock slipped 1.4 percent, partly on concern that low oil prices could hurt sales.

Growth in air travel, especially in Asia and the Middle East, has helped boost demand for Boeing and Airbus planes in recent years. But the 40 percent drop in oil prices since last July has investors wondering whether airlines will decide not to buy the newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seattle minimum-wage workers at large businesses should now be earning $11 an hour, and workers at smaller businesses should earn at least $10 an hour, plus an extra dollar an hour in either tips or health benefits.

But the city is still searching for the right person to head the office in charge of enforcing that law. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The past couple of years have been rocky for taxi companies as riders flock to services such as Uber, which has a network of drivers who use their own cars to pick up rides and find customers through a smartphone app.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Expedia will relocate its headquarters from its current home in downtown Bellevue to a waterfront campus in Seattle's Interbay neighborhood in late 2018.

Executives for the online travel site announced Thursday they've agreed to pay $228 million to purchase the 40-acre campus currently owned by biotech firm Amgen, which announced its plans to leave Seattle last summer. More than 3,000 employees currently work in Expedia's headquarters.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez is praising Seattle for leading the way by phasing in a $15/hour minimum wage. He appeared at a press conference at a restaurant in the Columbia City neighborhood with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and other leaders who worked to hike the city's wage floor. 

Perez says Republicans have blocked the president’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

But Perez says local and state governments are not waiting around. He says Seattle has set an example for the rest of the country.

Ted S. Warren / AP

For anyone who works in Seattle, earning minimum wage, this week, you get a raise. It’s a first step that will eventually lead to Seattle having one of the highest base wages in the country.

Low wage workers in Seattle will start earning at least $10-an-hour in cash compensation. Patricia Lally, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, which oversees the rollout of the new law, says thousands of post cards have been mailed to businesses explaining what they need to do.

Majority Democrats in the Washington state House have unveiled a proposed two-year, nearly $39 billion state budget and tax package.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

If you’re poor and you live in Washington state, you wind up forking over almost 17 percent of your income in state and local taxes. That’s according to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

But if you live in, say, Boise or Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, state and local taxes only eat up 8.5 percent of your income.

Bryan Corliss / District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Washington state is facing an “enormous budget challenge,” according to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has proposed creating a tax on capital gains and another on carbon pollution.

But wait a minute, didn’t lawmakers pass what’s been called the biggest tax break in U.S. history just a year and a half ago? What are we getting in exchange for those tax dollars we’ve chosen not to collect from the aerospace industry?

Over the next five years, Starbucks says it will be opening one new store every six hours around the world. This adds up to 8,000 new stores.The fastest growth is happening in China. The company also predicts India will soon be one of its top five markets.

Courtesy of Starbucks

 

Starbucks’ C.E.O., Howard Schultz, says it’s time for Americans to start talking about a subject that makes most people very uncomfortable: race. On Friday, there will be an eight page pull-out in USA Today, and in Starbucks’ company owned stores across the U.S.

A TV set depicting a Zombie Apocalypse will go up in Olympia on Tuesday.

The makers of the sci-fi series “Z-nation” are setting up shop at the state capitol to show how many kinds of jobs are involved when film crews come to town. They’re pressing lawmakers to approve more incentives for movie making in Washington state.

"Z-Nation" is filmed in Spokane, but for one day, an apocalyptic set inspired by the show will be in Olympia to demonstrate how many jobs are linked to film work.

minkcy chiu / Picasa

Should berry pickers be paid separately for rest breaks? This is a question before the Washington State Supreme Court tomorrow.

Farm workers are suing Sakuma Brothers Farms, based in Burlington. They say the 10 minutes of break time required every four hours under state law should be paid for outside the money they earn bringing in a harvest of berries.

Laborers who do this work are paid based on the volume they pick, not by the hour. It’s called “piece rate,” and it’s a common way to pay people in agriculture.

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