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

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.

A panel of west coast business leaders discuss employee feedback at a Tuesday morning session at TINYcon.
Caleb Papineau / TINYpulse

Corporate leaders are gathering in downtown Seattle to talk about how they can make their workplaces more employee-friendly.

About 175 people attended a conference called TINYcon this week to hear speakers on things like employee feedback and company transparency.

Some of the people attending represent large businesses looking to change how they interact with their employees. Smaller companies and startups want to create a good workplace culture to stay competitive.

Seattle University law student Connor Smith researches employmetnt law at the Fair Work Center in Seattle, which runs the county's only legal clinic specializing in workplace issues.
Simone Alicea / knkx

Employees who think they're being treated unfairly at work can now find free legal advice in King County.

The Fair Work Center in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood has opened the county's first legal clinic specializing in workplace issues like pay, safety or discrimination. 

"People are having problems; and they know it's a problem. They're just not apparently sure it has a legal solution," Fair Work Center legal director Liz Ford said.

In this March 14, 2014, file photo, Jerad Bernard hands out cards to passers-by offering one free ride through the Lyft ridesharing service in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

The Seattle City Council has extended the deadline for the city to figure out out how to implement a law allowing drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize.

The City Council approved the ordinance last year and tasked the city Department of Finance and Administrative Services with determining the rules for how drivers and unions could work together.

Associated Press / Elaine Thompson

The Washington attorney general announced Wednesday that he will propose new legislation to ban assault-style rifles in the state.

The proposal comes about five weeks after a gunman brandishing a semiautomatic rifle opened fire on a party in Mukilteo, killing Anna Bui, Jake Long and Jordan Eber and wounding 18-year-old Will Kramer.

Amazon's new part-time teams are generating buzz about work-life balance in the tech industry.
Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Amazon is experimenting  a few teams of part-time employees, consisting of both workers and managers with a 30-hour week. The move has renewed conversations about work-life balance in the tech industry. 

Laura Troyani  used to work for TINYpulse, a local startup that helps employers – mainly other tech companies – measure their employees' happiness. She has since started PlanBeyond, a marketing consulting firm.

Troyani sat down with KNKX to talk about how tech employers are starting to help their employees strike that balance.

A new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that Washington and other states are facing a shortage of craft workers like carpenters and painters.
"setting out braces" by Matt Thompson is licensed by CC by 2.0

As the nation recovers from the recession and more construction projects pop up, contractors across the country are having trouble finding enough people to build those projects.

A new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that employers, including 75 percent of those surveyed in Washington state, are struggling to find skilled crafts workers. These are people like carpenters and painters who make up the bulk of the labor force on a given project. 

U.S. Patent Office

As wildfire season blazes on in Washington state, a group of Boeing engineers have secured a patent for something called a "fire-retarding artillery shell."

The idea is to build a kind of missile filled with fire retardants that you could shot into a wildfire to try and stop it from spreading. 

A train rolls through the University of Washington Station, where there will soon be cell service.
Monica Spain / KPLU

When you're running late waiting for a bus or train in the transit tunnels in Seattle, there's usually no way to text or call while you're underground. But soon, that won't be a problem.

Sound Transit began rolling out cell service this week between the University of Washington and Westlake tunnel stations. 

Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle's University Village last year.
Elaine Johnson / AP Photo

Part of the convenience of shopping online is having your spoils delivered to your door, but online retailers are opening more and more physical stores.

Consider the bookstore Amazon opened in Seattle's University Village last year. Now the retail giant is beginning to build drive-up grocery stores where customers can pick up online orders.

"hallway in the cherry tree inn in billings" by Bradley Gordon is licensed under CC by 2.0

On Monday,  the Seattle City Council endorsed an initiative slated for the November ballot that was designed to protect hotel workers in the city.  That initiative is opposed by hotel owners who worry the measure goes too far.

Initiative 124 is broad, covering employee health care, workplace safety, and how hotels should protect workers from sexual harassment.

Union labels on Perma products
Perma

Recreational marijuana buyers in the south Puget Sound can now find products with a union label.

Perma, a Tacoma-based cannabis grower and processor, is the first recreational pot processor in the county to unionize. The workers have joined the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367. 

The process began in May when Perma founder Webb Bowie saw the union speak at a business event.

"I went to them and challenged them," Bowie said. "They didn't come knocking at my door."

The International Dota 2 championships
Simone Alicea / KPLU

Forget about the Rio Olympics; Gamers from all over the world are gathering this week at Key Arena for The International, the championship Dota 2 tournament.

Dota stands for Defense of the Ancients, and Dota 2  is an online multiplayer game developed by Bellevue-based video game company Valve. 

As the line to get into Key Arena wound through Seattle Center Monday morning, KPLU had the opportunity to catch up with some of the spectators, who talked about the way the game brings people together.

"Welcome at SEA" by bfishadow is licensed by CC BY 2.0

Immigrants in Washington make outsized contributions to the state’s economy, according to a new report from a national coalition that promotes immigration reform.

On Wednesday morning, local business leaders and immigrant advocates presented "The Contributions of New Americans in Washington," which detailed the economic impact of the state's immigrants. 

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