Business

Business news and features from the Puget Sound region. Stay up-to-date with the latest business news and more.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Talking about a $15 minimum wage may seem common now. But when that number was pitched to airport workers and then to SeaTac voters in 2013, the concept was far-fetched.

Jonathan Rosenblum was the SeaTac campaign director for Working Washington at the time. He has a new book chronicling that campaign called "Beyond $15: Immigrant Workers, Faith Activists, and the Revival of the Labor Movement."

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington state lawmakers are trying to limit the scope of non-compete agreements.

A non-compete agreement is part of a contract that says an employee can't work for a competitor for a certain period of time after leaving a company.

There have been several attempts to restrict the use of non-compete agreements in Washington. Some states, like California, have all but banned them.

PR NEWSWIRE

Amazon has not yet said exactly what caused one of its cloud storage services to go down for several hours Tuesday, but businesses who were affected can learn from the headache.

The Seattle-based tech giant dominates the cloud services market, far outpacing its next three competitors.  

Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp. has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, and agreed to pay $1 billion for concealing a defect in millions of its air bag inflators.

The decision played out in a federal courtroom in Detroit on Monday, following a deal with the U.S. Justice Department.

The 114th North American International Toy Fair boosts a chance for industry players to see "hundreds of thousands of innovative new toys and games before they hit store shelves."

To attend the four-day event in New York City must be a lot like being a kid in a candy store — er — make that toy store.

At the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, hundreds of thousands of square feet are dedicated to the "hottest new toys and trends."

Alaska Air Group stock hit a new all-time high in trading Wednesday after a solid earnings report and dividend increase. The parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air flew 13 percent more passengers in the final quarter of 2016 compared to the same period a year ago.

David Lee / Flickr

At a special commission meeting Tuesday, the Port of Seattle responded to a state accountability audit and to the resignation of ex-CEO Ted Fick.

In 2015, the commission approved a one-time payout to certain employees to boost employee morale and retention amid reorganization. Auditors flagged the move during a yearly accountability audit as it was being debated.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

Microsoft is suing the U.S. Justice Department, claiming it exploits the company's trove of data on customers who use its cloud-based products.

The Redmond-based company is asking the court to declare that a section of the law that governs electronic privacy is unconstitutional. Specifically, it wants to be able to tell customers when the government is investigating them.

Henry Alva / Flickr

Trade advocates in Washington state are feeling disappointed after President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP is a trade pact between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, including Canada and Japan. 

The agreement was signed by all twelve countries, but Congress never passed it. Trump and other TPP critics have said the partnership would have been good for corporate interests and bad for American workers.

A 32-year career at Boeing comes to a close in April for engineer Dave Baine of suburban Seattle. Baine was already prepared to retire when Boeing sealed the deal by making him a buyout offer last week.

"It's better than a gold watch," he says. The deal is six months' pay in a lump sum and extended health insurance.

"It'll help the younger folks that want to stick around and help some of the older folks exit quickly and quietly," he says.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Ride-hailing company Uber is suing Seattle to block the city's new driver unionization law.

The ordinance passed by the City Council allows taxi drivers and drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to join a union.  The city has spent the past year writing the rules for how that happens. 

Those rules went into effect Tuesday, the same day Uber filed the lawsuit in King County Superior Court.

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

A new immigration bill introduced in Congress last week could affect technology companies in Washington state.

Companies like Microsoft and Amazon often hire through the H-1B visa program, which allows highly skilled workers to come to the U.S.

It's still unclear whether Verizon will follow through on a $4.8 billion deal to buy Yahoo's core internet business, but if the sale is finalized, there's a name for what will be left behind.

Ford and General Motors both reacted Tuesday to President-elect Donald Trump's continued criticism of U.S. companies manufacturing products in Mexico.

Ford announced it would cancel its $1.6 billion plans to build a plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and instead invest an additional $700 million to expand an existing plant in Michigan to make autonomous and electric vehicles. That comes on the heels of another decision in November to keep production of some small SUVs at its plant in Kentucky.

The Great Recession ended 7 1/2 years ago, and job gains have been steady since, but greater demand for workers is only starting to increase pay.

The increases are still relatively modest, and the data are still mixed. In October, for example, the Labor Department reported average hourly earnings increased at a 2.8 percent rate — the highest since mid-2009, but wage growth slowed in November. A separate report this month showed the cost of labor — another measure of wage growth — increased especially during the spring of this year.

In San Francisco, companies will pay six-figure salaries to entry-level tech workers from all over the world. So this might come as a surprise: A public university there is laying off some of its own IT staff and sending their jobs to a contractor with headquarters in India.

Until recently, Hank Nguyen's daughter wanted to follow in his footsteps and work in tech. Last spring, she was accepted into the University of California system.

"She was inclined to take computer science and engineering," Nguyen says.

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

Three hospitality business groups are suing Seattle over a measure intended to protect hotel workers that voters approved in November.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association, the Washington Hospitality Association and the Seattle Hotel Association filed the lawsuit in King County Superior Court on Monday.

Courtesy of Boeing

Leaders at Boeing have announced that the company will see more job cuts in 2017 in a further effort to reduce costs as orders have slowed.

Washington state's largest private sector employer has already cut jobs in its commercial airplanes unit by eight percent, according to a joint statement to employees from Boeing Vice Chairman Ray Conner and Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Kevin McAllister.

Postmates is an app-based food and grocery delivery service.
Chandice Choi / AP

On-demand delivery startup Postmates has been ordered to pay more than two years' worth of worker compensation premiums for its couriers in Washington.

The San Francisco-based company says the cyclists and drivers who work through the app are independent contractors who should be exempt from workers' comp coverage.

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. 

Beginning in 2017, United Airlines will offer cheaper airfares for budget-conscious travelers.

"Basic economy" will be lower priced than regular fares, allowing United to compete head to head with discount airlines such as Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant Air.

But there's a trade-off for passengers who will be giving up some of the few remaining perks of air travel, like putting a carry-on suitcase in the overhead bin or getting an assigned seat.

Iran Air has finalized its historic purchase of 80 U.S.-made passenger jets, signing a deal with Boeing that's the first of its kind since the overthrow of Iran's shah in the 1970s. U.S. officials approved the deal in September, months after Iran emerged from sanctions.

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.  

The proposed takeover by Alaska Airlines of its West Coast rival Virgin America has cleared its biggest hurdle. The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday approved the $2.6 billion merger with conditions.

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.

The announcement that President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence helped persuade Carrier to keep 1,000 factory jobs in the U.S. is a pretty big win. After all, they ran on a message of protecting The American Worker, and Trump isn't even in the White House yet.

In the race for video streaming domination, Netflix surges forward. On Wednesday, Netflix announced and implemented in its latest update, the ability to download TV and movie titles on mobile devices.

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.

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.

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