Category Archives: The Other Washington

All Things Washington State

Washington State News Info and Political Action

BossFeed Briefing from Working Washington

We are Working Washington

BossFeed Briefing for February 12, 2018. Last Monday, a longtime New York City livery driver killed himself in front of City Hall, leaving a suicide note which detailed the growing difficulty of making a living in his line of work. Last Wednesday, a powerful German industrial union won the right to a 28-hour workweek. Today is the 50th anniversary of the first day of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, where the iconic “I AM A MAN” picket signs were first seen. And Wednesday is Valentine’s Day, in honor of which huge numbers of cut flowers are flown in from South America.

So sue me 

aches on a plane

Three things to know this week:

victory hand A new study looked at the economic impact of 137 different minimum wage increases across the country and found that higher wages do not cause any job losses of any kind. This confirms the sense of everybody who lives in Seattle, works in Seattle, or has traveled through the city in the past several years: higher wages and economic growth go together.

thermometer Washington state’s sick time law took effect on January 1st, which means about 1 million people should now be seeing paid sick time accrue on their pay stubs for the first time. We put together a sick time check-up where you can answer a few quick questions to make sure your employer is fulfilling their obligations and you’re getting the rights you deserve.

money baag The city of Stockton, California is conducting one of the first municipal experiments with basic income in the United StatesThe city will provide $500/month in unrestricted income to 100 residents, and then measure the results over 12 – 18 months.


Two things to ask:

plane Surely, they can’t be serious? The industry lobby group for Alaska Airlines & friends filed suit against the state of Washington, arguing that our sick days law shouldn’t apply to them because it’s too much of a burden on multi-billion-dollar companies to keep track of 6.5 sick days a year. Working Washington responded in the local newsnational news, and on TV.

classical building What will the Senate do? The Washington State House has followed the example of Spokane, Seattle, and many other jurisdictions across the country by voting to “ban the box.” The fair chance employment act, which would stop employers from preemptively rejecting applicants based solely on a criminal record, now heads to the State Senate.


And one thing that’s worth a closer look:

rocket Regardless of your take on Elon Musk’s various enterprises, it’s quite obvious that a successful rocket launch requires the technical expertise and other contributions of thousands of people. And yet Musk is a primary example of something that happens quite often in popular writing, where the achievements of successful companies are attributed to the singular genius of a founding CEO. Evaporating the work of the people who do the work has political consequences, and a different way of writing about rich people and their hobbies can have a radically different impact, as explored in Donald Borenstein’s pointed Style Guide for Writing About the Rich. Take a closer look at Borenstein’s piece to explore what it means when so many writers spend so much time and effort going out of their way to praise the rich — and what it might look like if journalists treated the ultra-wealthy with a different attitude.



sick time check-up –

We are Working Washington

It doesn’t matter what your boss says. It doesn’t matter what your job title is. And it doesn’t matter what city you work in.

As of January 1, 2018, if you’re an hourly worker in Washington state, you get paid sick time.

And that’s why we’re reaching out today.

Can you answer a few quick questions to make sure your employer is following the new sick time law, and you and your co-workers are getting what you’re entitled to?


Paid sick time has been the law since January 1st. Under the new law, all hourly workers in Washington get 1 hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked — about 6 days a year if you work full-time. And the law says you have a right to use your sick time if you’re sick, for a medical appointment, or to care for a sick family member.

Now it’s up to us to make sure that right is a reality in every workplace in our state. Take our sick time check-up so we can see how we’re doing.


Working Washington

BossFeed Briefing from Working Washington ~

We are Working Washington

BossFeed Briefing for February 5, 2018. Last Tuesday, Cleveland’s major league baseball team announced they would stop using the racist caricature Chief Wahoo on their uniforms, though they will still be called the Indians. Last Friday, Punxsutawney Phil was forcibly removed from his burrow and then saw his shadow, indicating 6 more weeks of winter. Tomorrow is the 101st anniversary of Congress passing the Immigration Act, which required a literacy test for new arrivals to the US and barred most immigration from Asia. And Thursday the federal government could shut down for the second time this year.

Shadow of a doubt 

groundhog day

Three things to know this week:

note Misleading minimum wage surcharges could soon be a thing of the past. We sent a formal request to the state Department of Labor & Industries asking them to make rules that would bar surcharges that pose as taxes or claim to go towards wages.

downward chart When Amazon opens a new warehouse, it drives down wages for people doing similar work in the area by an average of 3%, government figures show. Many of these facilities also receive substantial public subsidies.

tipping hand The US Labor Department is pushing controversial new rules which would allow management to pocket money from tip pools. When an official economic impact analysis found workers would lose billions of dollars of tips if the rules were implemented, senior department officials chose to block the publication of the analysis and go forward with the proposal.


Two things to ask:

judge Does this look legal to you? A multinational tech company called Pactera is advertising an entry-level data analyst job in Redmond… with an ad that says candidates have to be “born and brought up in the USA.” Working Washington members are applying for the job on with cover letters explaining what they think about this kind of discrimination.

neutral face Think that put a frown on the manager’s face? A server in Quebec was reinstated to her job after being fired for “not smiling enough.” She received $30,000 in backpay.


And one thing that’s worth a closer look:

hourglass In an economic system where most jobs are bad, every extra hour of work can have a negative impact on our lives — and even our healthAs Peter Fleming explores in The Guardian, there’s a growing body of research showing that time spent at work has a health impact similar to smoking — and that if you work more than 39 hours a week, it could kill you. While dominant US culture relentlessly celebrates hard work, it turns out that most of us are productive for only about four hours a day, whiling away the rest of our time on the clock by pretending to be busy and worrying about what’s ahead. The science suggests there are two approaches here, both desperately necessary: first, to make work more rewarding & better compensated, and second, for all of us to do less of it.


Read this far?

tophat Consider yourself briefed, boss.

Gov. Jay Inslee ~ Our climate at risk

Democratic Climate Action

Did you see the recent interview where Donald Trump denies climate change, carmen?

In a rambling tirade, he tries to argue that the planet is actually cooling. It’s absolutely horrifying that the leader of our country has zero understanding of science and outright denies the existence of climate change. Donald Trump’s dangerous beliefs are putting our futures and our children’s futures at risk.

Trump’s reckless, shortsighted decisions are downright dangerous: rolling back critical environmental protections. Pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. Opening our coastlines to devastating offshore drilling. We can’t stand for it.

Our climate is changing, and we have a moral responsibility to take action. That’s why we’re creating Democratic Climate Action: to elect leaders who will promote climate action and fight climate change at the state level, no matter what nonsense Trump spews from the White House.

Right now, the most important thing we can do to protect our planet’s future is to stand united against Trump’s anti-environment agenda.

So I need you to stand with me today. Add your name to send a strong message to Trump: Protect our climate – don’t destroy it!

Thank you for adding your voice.

Very truly yours,

Jay Inslee
Governor of Washington
Chair, Democratic Governors Association

we’re asking L&I to eliminate misleading minimum wage surcharges

We are Working Washington

Misleading minimum wage surcharges could soon be a thing of the past. Working Washington has sent an official request to the State Department of Labor & Industries calling on the agency to establish rules that would effectively eliminate misleading surcharges which pose as taxes or claim to go towards wages.


min wage service charge
Despite what it says on these receipts, there is no such thing as the “Seattle Fair Wage Act” or a “WA Min Wage Fee.”

Paying the minimum wage is a basic cost of doing business, not an extra add-on to be counted separately. If there’s no line item for the rent and no napkin-laundering charge called out, then there’s no good reason to tack on an extra few percent and attribute it to the minimum wage — unless you’re trying to send a political message about opposition to raising the wage, that is.

For more than a year, we’ve collected examples of misleading minimum surcharges from across the state. We’ve asked businesses to eliminate these charges. We’ve published a list. We’ve gone to the press. And more.

We’ve had success turning back many of these charges — but others are still out there. (For example, the two pictured above.)

So now we’re taking the next step. We sent a letter to L&I asking them to use their authority under the law to clarify that:

  • Service charges can never pose as taxes or government-mandated fees.
  • Any surcharges that include the word “wage” or similar language are forbidden, because they will invariably be interpreted as intended to count towards employees’ wages, and that would be illegal under state law.
  • Workers must be made whole for service charges which inappropriately were counted towards wage obligations, as this is effectively wage theft.

Taken together, these three rules would effectively eliminate misleading minimum wage surcharges. That’s why we’re asking you to add your name in support.

After you add your name, we’ll deliver your signatures to L&I — and we’ll let you know how they respond.

Thanks. Let’s do this!

Sage, Working Washington

P.S. You can read our complete letter to L&I here.