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Mention taxes and people either get irate or their eyes glaze over. But one well-known Seattle economist has spent a lot of time thinking about our state tax system and says it stinks. And, he says, it’s time we all paid attention.

Gexydaf / Flickr

Note: PLU holds the license for KPLU, where on-air staff are represented by the union SAG-AFTRA.

The National Labor Relations Board has released the result of a vote by adjunct and part-time faculty at Pacific Lutheran University on whether to unionize.

There were 30 votes for union representation, 54 votes against representation and 38 challenged ballots, the NLRB said.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing appears to have topped Airbus for a third year in a row in airplane deliveries, and the company has a new record backlog of more than 5,700 planes still to build. That's eight years' worth of production at the current rate.

B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure / Flickr

A federal mediator has been appointed to help facilitate collective bargaining between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, the group representing terminal operators up and down the West Coast.

The employers have been saying the longshoremen have deliberately slowed down work to gain leverage in contract talks. The workers say the slowdown is the result of other congestion problems, including a shortage of truck beds for carrying containers.

Starbucks

In news that will please Australians, New Zealanders and Brits living in the U.S., Starbucks says it will start selling a coffee drink known as the `flat white’ this week, and there’s one person in Seattle who’s particularly delighted. 

We first heard of the flat white last fall, when KPLU spoke with Aidan Lang, the new general director of the Seattle Opera.

Lang is from the U.K. but lived for years in New Zealand, and that’s where he first tasted what became his favorite coffee drink.

David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons

 

According to researchers at Washington State University, shoppers may be more likely to accept bad customer service from a company if they know that company supports causes they agree with.

WSU social psychologist Jeff Joireman said tales of bad customer service spread fast these days — on Yelp, on YouTube, on Twitter.

Sharon Drummond - dolmansaxlil / Flickr

 

A trip across the border to Canada could have an added appeal right now with an exchange rate that has turned quite favorable for Americans.

But this cuts two ways. It might also lead to more Canadians staying home, which could hurt retailers in U.S. border counties.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing has announced a deal with Kuwait Airways that could allay some concerns about its ability to sell enough of its current 777 wide-body jet. 

The Kuwaiti airline has finalized an order for ten 777-300ERs, the current version of Boeing's popular twin-engine, long-haul jet.

Creative Commons

A Seattle biotechnology firm is making waves on Wall Street. Juno Therapeutics had a splashy initial public offering Friday, and shares climbed more than 45 percent in its first day of trading.

Nigel Pacquette / Wikimedia Commons

 

Northwest farmers and orchardists are among the potential beneficiaries if the U.S. and Cuba normalize their relationship and the trade embargo ends.

They're among many still trying to sort out what President Obama's announcement Wednesday of changes in Cuba policy could mean for them.

Anna King

 

A slowdown at western ports is now aggravating farmers across the Northwest.

Produce processors are laying off production line workers. Apples are backing up. And the summer’s premium hay is stacked in sheds and not moving.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle Housing Authority, which runs public housing in the city, has backed away from a proposed rental policy change that sparked protest, and now the agency says it won't put forth a new plan before 2016.

This past summer, SHA proposed a new policy called "Stepping Forward" in which it would no longer set rent at 30 percent of a tenant's income, and instead would charge rent based on the size of the unit.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The price of crude oil has dropped to its lowest level in about five years and has fallen about 40 percent this year. That’s great for people filling up their gas tanks, but perhaps not such good news for a company like Boeing that’s made fuel-efficiency of its new airplanes a big selling point.

Now the company is explaining why the drop in oil prices is not cause for concern. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Gerry Pollet's name. We've also removed a sentence that said last year's tax preference extension hasn't yet gone into effect. It took effect July 9, 2014. 

Last year, the Washington state legislature extended aerospace tax breaks worth an estimated $8.7 billion in an effort to persuade Boeing to build the 777x jet here.  

The company did commit to build the plane here, but at the same time, Boeing has announced plans to move thousands of other jobs away. And that has some lawmakers in Olympia ready to require companies to meet tougher criteria to qualify for lower tax rates.

Scott Sady / AP Photo

Business groups are cheering a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case brought by Amazon warehouse workers. The justices rejected the workers’ argument that they should be paid for the time spent waiting to go through security screenings.

Amazon.com.

 

A new letter from Amazon to the Federal Aviation Administration indicates the e-commerce giant is getting frustrated with the wait for approval to test package delivery drones.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

King County Metro Transit bus drivers are stepping up their pressure on officials to give them more bathroom breaks. On Monday, some workers picketed outside King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office to draw attention to what they say are unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.

Jerry Meaden / Flickr

In the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008, some cities have started exploring the idea of bypassing commercial banks by creating public banks. This Wednesday, a forum will explore the idea of Seattle creating its own lending institution

Austin Jenkins

 

Low-wage workers picketed and rallied across the country Thursday in support of a $15 per hour minimum wage.

On the steps of the Washington state Capitol, a group of about 50 people gathered, mostly minimum wage earners who carried signs saying "Strike poverty." They’re calling for a $15 per hour base wage in Washington state.

Sam Howzit / Flickr

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz says his company is facing a "tidal wave of change" as people buy more online and less in brick and mortar stores, so he’s outlined a plan to attract even more people to his cafes even in the age of e-commerce. 

Jennifer Wing

Accompanied by a small entourage, Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke at a rally outside Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle Wednesday in support of Amazon’s security guards.

The security guards are not employed by Amazon, but instead work for a California-based company called Security Industry Specialists, or SIS.

AP Photo

A report by federal accident investigators points to a manufacturing defect as the likely cause of an internal short circuit that led to a battery fire in a Boeing 787 airliner parked at Boston's airport last year.

Friends of the Earth International / Flickr

Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Organization meeting that brought tens of thousands of protesters to Seattle. Now labor groups are once again sounding the alarm that new trade deals being negotiated may leave workers behind. 

Brett Davis / Washington Farm Bureau

Steve Sakuma, one of the owners of Sakuma Brothers Farms, a Skagit Valley berry farm that’s been in the spotlight for a labor dispute, calls President Obama’s announcement on immigration a "good first step." But he says it doesn’t solve a labor shortage the farm has faced.

In the past, Sakuma has called the current immigration system broken, saying it’s not good to have so many workers living in the shadows and it limits their upward mobility. For that reason, Sakuma praised the president’s move to protect some workers from deportation and let them work here legally.

Washington Employment Security Department

Employers added 5,600 more jobs in Washington state last month. But the statewide unemployment rate as reported by the state Wednesday rose by three-tenths of a point to 6.0 percent. 

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

About 1,100 hospital workers went on a 24-hour strike Tuesday at Saint Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and Saint Clare Hospital in Lakewood, saying they’re frustrated they haven’t yet been able to work out new contracts with their employer, CHI Franciscan.

Tom Banse

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson says his company wants to nearly double its footprint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

That implies an even stronger challenge than was already in the works to hometown carrier Alaska Airlines.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle Housing Authority residents will rally Monday in protest of the agency’s plans to raise rents for some tenants, and some of them plan to testify at the housing authority’s board meeting where they'll ask the agency to drop the plan.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Public housing residents in Seattle have been speaking out for months against a plan by the Seattle Housing Authority to hike rents. Now Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced two nominees for the housing agency’s board that tenant advocates hope will quash the plan.

Tender Young Pony of Insomnia / Flickr

A slowdown in operations at ports up and down the West Coast is choking off the flow of apples, Christmas trees, potatoes and other Northwest products to foreign markets. Exporters say the delays could have long-term consequences for Northwest agriculture if the problems aren’t resolved before the holidays.

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