Simone Alicea

Business & Labor Reporter

A Seattle native and former knkx intern, Simone Alicea has returned to the Pacific Northwest from covering breaking news at the Chicago Sun-Times. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times. 

Ways to Connect

A sign that reads "15 Good Work Seattle" is displayed below Seattle City Hall, right, and the Columbia Center building, left, Monday, June 2, 2014, after the Seattle City Council passed a $15 minimum wage measure.
Ted S. Warren / AP

Seattle has been a national leader in passing labor standards like paid sick and safe time, a $15 minimum wage and secure scheduling. But these laws meant to help workers can leave businesses struggling to keep up.

Wendy Gillihan owns Gryffin Consulting and helps businesses comply with Seattle's labor standards. She also sits on the mayor's Labor Standards Advisory Commission. 

Seattle Ethics and Elections Comission

Registered voters in Seattle have begun receiving notices about 'democracy vouchers,' the result of an initiative passed last year to change the way local campaigns are financed.

Seattle voters approved a property tax that is expected to raise $3 million each year for 10 years to pay for each registered voter and other eligible adults to receive four $25 vouchers. 

One woman holds up an "Every Driver Counts" sign while another holds one that says "$15 and a Union" at a packed meeting about for-hire driver unionization at Seattle City Hall.
Simone Alicea / knkx

More than 200 people gathered at Seattle City Hall Tuesday afternoon to talk about how drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft could potentially unionize.

The hearing was held to talk about draft rules the city released a couple weeks ago regarding an ordinance the Seattle City Council passed last year.  

A representative from the Washington State Department of Commerce demonstrates a pickleball paddle made from plane scraps at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Simone Alicea / knkx

A firm in Port Angeles has figured out a way to make pickleball paddles out of plane scraps.

The Composite Recycling Technology Center makes the paddles from recycled carbon fiber composites. These materials are super strong and lightweight.

When a company like Boeing builds its 787 Dreamliner, for example, it has to cut sheets of carbon fiber composites into the right shapes for different parts of the plane. But that same company may not have the resources to figure out how to recycle its leftovers.

Rick Maiman/AP Images for Starbucks

Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz is stepping down as CEO of the coffee chain he joined more than 30 years ago and transformed into a globally known brand.

Schultz will become executive chairman in April to focus on innovation such as high-end shops and social impact activities, the Seattle-based chain announced Thursday. Kevin Johnson, who was named president and chief operating officer last year, will be chief executive as of April 3.

Wash. Democratic Electoral College members Levi Guerra and Bret Chiafalo explain a plan to encourage Republican electors in other states to vote for an alternative candidate to Donald Trump.
Will James / knkx

A handful of Democratic Electoral College members are hatching a plan to deny Donald Trump the presidency. 

Four Democratic electors from Washington and Colorado are leading the effort to persuade 37 Republican electors in other states to vote for someone other than Trump.

They're calling themselves "Hamilton Electors," claiming to honor Alexander Hamilton's vision of the Electoral College as outlined in Federalist Paper 68.

Ralph Radford / AP Photo

The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that the tax incentives offered by Washington state to Boeing are illegal.

Monday's decision is the first in the latest case brought by the European Union against the Chicago-based airplane manufacturer.

photosteve101 / flickr.com

The Washington State Office of Privacy and Data Protection has launched a web-based application to help agencies navigate federal and state privacy laws.

The app is called Privacy Modeling. Alex Alben is the state's chief privacy officer and the person behind Privacy Modeling.

Justin Shearer / flickr.com

A group of neighbors near the future Shoreline light rail station is trying to capitalize on recent rezoning by banding together to sell their homes to a developer as one site.

They're doing it by using CityBldr, an online tool that uses market data and land-use information to help owners see what their property might be worth to developers. 

A North Pacific fishing boat sits at Fisherman's Terminal on Lake Union.
Simone Alicea / knkx

The fleet of boats that fish the waters off the coast of Alaska is getting old, but that could be a good thing for the economy here in Washington state, according to a new report.

Supporters of secure scheduling  march in downtown Seattle in April.
Working Washington

The agency in charge of enforcing Seattle's citywide labor laws is being expanded.

The Office of Labor Standards will be getting a boost in next year's city budget to more than double its staff. The office investigates violations of city labor ordinances and educates workers and businesses about complying with the relatively new laws.

United States Marine Corps

Researchers at the University of Washington say they may have found one way to get soldiers suffering from alcohol abuse the help they need.

A heavy drinking culture combined with the stress of deployment can mean a high rate of alcohol abuse among military members. 

Will James / knkx

Dozens of Republicans rose to their feet with a scream. Donald Trump's victory was unfolding on giant screens beaming Fox News into a Bellevue ballroom.

At a Democratic gathering across Lake Washington, news of Hillary Clinton's concession scrolled across a TV with CNN on mute. Stragglers at the hotel bar moaned, cursed, cried out in disbelief.

"She was supposed to win," said Brittany Silvas, a Clinton supporter from Seattle.

A Sound Transit train passes over a Sound Transit bus in Seattle.
AP Images

Voters have passed a $54 billion proposal that will expand mass transit across King, Pierce and Snohomish counties over the next 25 years.

As of 11 p.m., early numbers had the ballot measure known as Sound Transit 3 winning 55 percent to 45 percent. It's enjoying large support in King County, with 59 percent voting in favor and 41 percent voting against. In Snohomish County, it was winning by a slimmer margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.

Pierce County voters are rejecting the measure, though. The vote there was 56 percent against, and 44 percent in favor.

Workers move a spool for the Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma. Tacoma's growth rate in construction employment surpassed Seattle's in the past year.
"Murray Morgan bridge spool" by Scott Hignst is licensed under CC by 2.0

More people are getting into the construction industry throughout Washington state, but especially in Tacoma, according to a new analysis of federal data from the Association of General Contractors of America.

The organization looked at how  many people were employed in construction between September 2015 and September 2016.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Two recent studies from the University of Washington provide some insight into the ways drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft may discriminate against certain passengers in the Seattle area.

Researchers say there's good news and there's bad news. In one study published in this month's Journal of Transportation Geography, researchers found that app-based ride-hailing service was actually faster in lower-income neighborhoods.

Mourners say a prayer near the former homeless encampment known as "The Jungle" where Michael Taylor was fatally shot by a Seattle Police officer.
Simone Alicea / knkx

About a dozen people gathered Friday near the former site of a homeless camp known as The Jungle to remember Michael Taylor, a 44-year-old man who was fatally shot by a Seattle police officer near the camp.

The gathering was convened by the Women's Housing, Equality and Enhancement League, a non-profit comprising homeless and formerly homeless women.

Allene Steinberg is one of the Women in Black who perform these ministries when homeless people die.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Matt Lyles knows how some people in Seattle feel about tech workers.

"When I came here, I was trying to start a better life for me," he said. "I didn't think I would be harming other people in doing so, but that's kind of what I feel sometimes."

Lyles is a software development engineer at Amazon. He helps Echo, the company's voice-activated speaker, figure out which songs to play when someone says, "Play sad songs from Soundgarden."

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

More millennials are beginning to buy homes, according to a new report on housing trends from Zillow.

The Seattle-based real estate company looked at trends for home buyers and sellers across the country. The survey found that 42 percent of people buying homes are between 18 and 34 years old, the largest share of home buyers.

Jeffrey Beall (bit.ly/2ea4S4B) / Lee LeFever (bit.ly/2ewBTti) / Flickr

In a few weeks, voters in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties will make a decision about Regional Proposition 1, also known as Sound Transit 3. But in 2004, voters in eight Colorado counties approved their own rail expansion called FasTracks.

Census data show that both the Seattle and Denver regions were among the top five fastest growing metro areas last year. Both areas have also largely focused on rail as a solution to congestion.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Two years ago, the Oso landslide in Washington state killed 43 people and wiped out a rural neighborhood north of Seattle. Now a series of settlements have been reached for those affected by the landslide and the state has been order to pay an additional penalty. 

The settlements total more than $60 million. They resolve a lawsuit in which the families allege that the state, county, and a timber company, Grandy Lake Forest Associates, didn’t warn about the danger in the area and made damage from the 2014 Oso landslide worse.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seattle Police are investigating after an officer fatally shot a man near the homeless encampment known as “The Jungle.” The shooting happened during a sweep of the area. Several agencies were working Tuesday to clear the last of the campers out of the notorious site.

Joshua Rappeneker / Flickr

Congress has passed a Veterans Affairs bill that has a provision that would allow injured veterans access to in vitro fertilization services.

In 1992, Congress put a ban in place to prevent veterans from getting that kind of fertility treatment through VA health care.

With a provision to this year's VA appropriations bill, veterans will now have access to IVF. The President signed the bill into law last week.

A southbound Sounder train waits at King Street Station in Seattle.
Simone Alicea / knkx

If voters in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties approve the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, they would approve an expansion of not only the light rail system but also the Sounder commuter rail.

Sounder trains share the track with freight and Amtrak trains, which is partly why they can't run in both directions all day. The two Sounder lines together see an average of more than 16,000 riders a day.

A King County Metro RapidRide B Line bus approaches.
Simone Alicea / knkx

When voters think of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, the first thing that comes to mind is usually light rail.  But the people in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties who are voting on the plan will have to consider other modes of transit, too.

ST3 would add something called bus rapid transit to Sound Transit's transportation options. 

What is bus rapid transit?

A northbound train pulls into Westlake Station in downtown Seattle.
Simone Alicea / knkx

Light rail is the core of Sound Transit 3, the regional transportation plan on the ballot in three Puget Sound counties.

The 62 miles of new rail make up the largest part of the $54 billion price tag, but the region wouldn't see most of it until after 2025.

One way of looking at why Sound Transit is so focused on light rail is to look at Everett and Snohomish County.

A Sound Transit train passes over a Sound Transit bus in Seattle.
AP Images

If you live in Pierce, King or Snohomish Counties, you will see an initiative on November's ballot called Sound Transit Regional Proposition 1. The measure will determine whether the region adopts a $54 billion transit plan called Sound Transit 3, or ST3 for short.

When voters open their ballots, they might see a few paragraphs about the plan. But ST3 can't be explained with just one page. 

Passengers get off a Sound Transit light rail train.
Paula Wissel / KNKX

November's election is fast approaching, and voters can expect a long ballot. As part of our election coverage, knkx will be looking into many candidates and issues around the state and the region.

But starting this week, knkx will focus on Sound Transit Regional Proposition 1, better known as Sound Transit 3. Voters in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties will decide whether to adopt the 25-year, $54 billion transit expansion plan. 

Amazon employees and their parents explore a "science fair" at the company's first ever "Bring Your Parents to Work" day.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

Many companies have a bring-your-child-to-work day, but Amazon thought maybe their employees' parents were feeling left out. 

On Friday, the Seattle-based company held its first "Bring Your Parents to Work Day."

Thousands of employees and their parents crowded into Amazon buildings downtown and in South Lake Union. They attended sessions like Amazon 101 and a screening of a new Prime series. 

With activities like a "science fair" and people in bright yellow shirts directing the massive crowds, a lot of parents said they felt like they had done this before.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The Obama administration says it has won an important victory in a World Trade Organization dispute with the European Union over subsidies to airplane manufacturer Airbus.

The WTO found in June 2011 that the EU provided billions of dollars in subsidized financing to Airbus. The EU subsequently claimed to have come into compliance, but the United States disagreed and requested that a compliance panel intervene.

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