Business

Business news

AP Photo

Federal aviation officials say Boeing's design and manufacture of its cutting-edge 787 jetliner is safe despite the many plane's many problems since its rollout.

A report issued jointly by the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing on Wednesday says the plane was soundly designed, and that the government had effective processes in place to identify and correct issues that emerged before and after certification. The report makes seven recommendations for further improvements by Boeing and FAA.

Ashley Gross

After working on new regulations for about a year, the Seattle City Council on Monday voted unanimously to limit the number of rideshare drivers who can be active at any one time.

Companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar will be able to each have 150 drivers active on the dispatch system at a given time. Those so-called "transportation network companies" let drivers use their personal vehicles and connect with passengers via smartphone applications.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

More than 150 case managers, therapists and other employees of Behavioral Health Resources have walked off the job for a three-day strike. The agency provides mental-health and substance-abuse services in Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor counties, mostly to Medicaid recipients.

The agency is in deep financial straits and had to take out a line of credit to make payroll in December.

Anna King

Thousands of acres of high-value cherry and apple orchards behind the damaged Wanapum Dam are at serious risk in eastern Washington.

It turns out farmers don't have long enough straws to pump out of the Columbia River now that the water has been lowered there to stabilize the dam.

Ashley Gross

At the beginning of the year, the minimum wage in the city of SeaTac jumped to $15 an hour for workers at large hotels and parking lot companies. But employees at one parking lot business have complained to the city that they still haven’t gotten the raise almost three months later. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The owners of Seattle’s most famous landmark, the Space Needle, violated federal labor law, according to an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board. 

The landmark that dominates Seattle's skyline is owned by Space Needle LLC, a private company owned by the descendants of the construction entrepreneur Howard S. Wright. The company he founded later built the Space Needle for the 1962 World's Fair. A spokesman says the company plans to appeal the judge's decision.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing says it is inspecting about 40 Dreamliners that may have hairline cracks in their wings. No planes in service are affected; the issue only affects some aircraft still in production.

Company spokesman Doug Alder says the wing manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, told Boeing that a change in their manufacturing process may have caused the cracks, which Alder says are very small.

Boeing plans to shift its non-union employees away from a defined benefit pension plan, including about 26,000 workers in the Puget Sound region. 

In January, machinists here narrowly accepted a similar pension freeze to win the 777X production line. Now, Boeing’s including non-union employees in the retirement plan change because the company says its pension obligation is unsustainable.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Business owners, union members, restaurant employees and activists each got two minutes Wednesday night to say their piece about a higher minimum wage in Seattle. The city council and a committee appointed by Mayor Ed Murray held the forum as they weigh possibly hiking the wage floor to $15 an hour. 

AP Photo

 (Editor's note: This has been updated to include Conway's analysis on the minimum wage that he presented in his March 2014 issue of The Puget Sound Economic Forecaster.)

For hours on Wednesday, people spoke up both for and against the proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. At 60 percent higher than the state’s current minimum wage, it’s an eye-popping number. 

But well-known regional economist Dick Conway says the figure is not so crazy.

Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

It took four years, but Washington has now recovered more jobs than it lost during the Great Recession. But Wednesday’s announcement comes with a caveat.

Molly Riley / AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says he supports the idea of a higher minimum wage, but he wouldn’t comment on whether Seattle’s proposed rate of $15 per hour makes sense. Perez made the comments during a visit to Boeing’s Renton factory Monday.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Income inequality in the U.S. is at its highest point in 85 years, and politicians are debating ways to raise the living standard for low-wage workers. Globalization, technology and deregulation are often cited as factors behind the widening income gap. But Jake Rosenfeld at the University of Washington says there’s one cause that’s often overlooked: the decline of organized labor.

Ashley Gross

Seattle businesses are increasingly voicing concerns over the possibility of the city hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Thursday they brought those concerns to a mayor-appointed committee tasked with evaluating whether such a high minimum wage makes sense.

At $9.32 per hour, Washington state already has the highest minimum wage in the country, and $15 an hour represents a 60 percent increase.

“That kind of an immediate jump would have critical — and I don’t think it’s overly dramatic to say possibly fatal — consequences for our business,” said Peter Aaron, who owns Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees received an annual bonus Wednesday totaling $84 million.

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group says the incentive pay amounts to about 9 percent of annual pay or five weeks' pay for most workers.

Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

T-Mobile lost more money in the most recent quarter than it did a year earlier, but one longtime wireless expert says the Bellevue company’s bid to shake up the mobile-phone industry appears to be paying off. 

T-Mobile has long been considered an afterthought in the mobile world, much smaller than giants like Verizon and AT&T. But for the past year and a half, the company’s had a new CEO, John Legere, who’s used that underdog status as an advantage.

Paul Sakuma / AP Photo

From car dealers to appliance stores, businesses know tax refund season is an important time of year. The average tax refund so far this year is $3,200 and more than three-quarters of taxpayers get a refund. 

Seattle's Amazon.com undoubtedly gets a boost already from that influx of cash. But this year, the company is aiming for more.

Ashley Gross

Options are running out for tenants of an apartment complex in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood who are facing much higher rents once the new owner renovates their units. Seattle City Council members say more needs to be done to make sure other renters don’t face a similar plight.

Bruce Smith / AP Photo

The vote by Volkswagen workers in Tennessee to reject the United Auto Workers union has sent shock waves throughout the world of organized labor. And that setback is an example of why the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers faces an uphill battle organizing Boeing workers in South Carolina. 

Taylor McKnight

These days, a common question on job applications is whether you’ve ever been arrested. But a growing number of states, including Minnesota and Massachusetts, have adopted laws to remove questions about criminal history from initial job applications. Sponsors of a bill in Olympia hope to add Washington to that list. 

House Bill 2545 would prevent employers from asking for non-conviction information in initial job applications. 

AirlineReporter.com

If you’re the kind of person who knows what the thrust on Boeing’s 747-8 engines is (66,500 pounds per engine), or if you spend hours snapping pictures at Paine Field in Everett, you can probably safely call yourself an aviation geek. And you can embrace your inner-nerd by attending the annual Aviation Geek Fest.

But beware, tickets for this year’s event taking place this weekend sold out in under three minutes, faster than Seahawks playoff tickets. Benjamin Granucci, an aviation blogger from New York, was ready. 

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

Seattle's downtown looks "spectacularly disjointed." That's the assessment of landscape architect Shannon Nichol after walking every block in a 65-acre area around the city's Pike and Pine streets, from just east of Interstate 5 down to the waterfront. 

Nichol's design firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol was hired by Downtown Seattle Association to come up with ways to spark a renaissance along the Pike/Pine corridor and make downtown more inviting and visually interesting. The group of downtown boosters wants to extend the vibrancy of Pike Place Market and the waterfront all the way up to Capitol Hill. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Port of Seattle commissioners are pushing back against pressure from other elected officials to adopt the SeaTac living wage ordinance at Sea-Tac Airport.

A total of 57 state lawmakers, King County officials and SeaTac city officials have urged the commission to drop its opposition to the SeaTac minimum wage ordinance. Last November, SeaTac voters approved Proposition 1 to lift wages for some workers in and around the airport to $15 per hour. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

These days, Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood is dominated by wine bars and night clubs. But on one block of First Avenue, there’s a living reminder of the city’s dependence on the waterfront. Outside a two-story corner building, a few doors down from a Starbucks, is a vertical sign that reads "Catholic Seamen’s Club."  

These days, the place is known as the Catholic Seafarers’ Center and it’s run by the Archdiocese of Seattle. But for decades, the center has provided a lifeline to sailors, whether they’re here for just a few hours or months.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group, which has fought a local living-wage ordinance, concedes that low-wage workers may need a raise, but the company's CEO doesn't think SeaTac's initiative is the answer.

About 4,700 workers at Sea-Tac International Airport were hoping to get a bump to $15 an hour at the beginning of this year. But a judge has blocked that voter-passed ordinance from taking effect at the airport.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Boeing lobbyists are throwing a "thank you" party for lawmakers who helped provide the company with billions in tax breaks.

An invitation obtained by The Associated Press shows Boeing executives will host a reception for lawmakers on Tuesday evening. The event will take place at a house across the street from the Capitol campus and is slated to thank lawmakers for their efforts on the 777X airplane talks.

Multiple news reports say Microsoft is likely to choose company veteran Satya Nadella its next CEO, ending a very public search that’s taken almost half a year. 

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to confirm the reports, but if Nadella does take the reins from Steve Ballmer, he’ll become only the third CEO in the company’s 39-year history.

Austin Jenkins

 

A paper mill in Hoquiam has had its share of ups and downs over the past seven years.

It was a major employer and once even referred to as the “greenest” paper mill in the country. It was also a symbol for Grays Harbor County’s effort to reinvent itself after the timber market collapsed.

But now the mill is closed for good.

The nearly six-month-long search for Microsoft's next CEO is nearing an end, and news reports indicate it's likely the technology giant will turn to Satya Nadella, executive vice president of its Cloud and Enterprise group, to lead the company.

Chemical Safety Board

A culture of complacency at Tesoro’s Anacortes refinery led to the deadly fireball that claimed the lives of seven workers in 2010, according to federal investigators who've spent almost four years examining the causes.

The equipment that exploded in the early hours of April 2, 2010 had developed leaks that the company knew about. The carbon steel tubing of the equipment had been weakened over time by hydrogen and that had caused cracks. 

Pages