Employment Policy

Policy issues on the Seattle horizon

Earlier this week the Seattle City Council approved its 2017 work program (via Seattle City Council Insight). Although details are scant, the program provides some idea of the issues councilmembers want to work on this year. Much of the program is carried over from last year, but there are several new items of interest.

Washington’s union membership increase driven by public sector

Union membership in Washington increased in 2016, as Opportunity Washington noted a few weeks ago. Professors Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University and David Macpherson of Trinity University have since updated their data, which includes a break out of public sector and private sector unionization rates by state.

Roundup of Seattle business climate issues

Several policies impacting Seattle’s business climate have been in the news recently.

Side-by-side comparison of paid family leave bills

Two paid family leave bills have been introduced so far this session: SB 5032 (and the identical HB 1116) and SB 5149. Lens has a good story on the issue.

Roundup of year-end agency news

A number of agency announcements have made my inbox over the last month:

Results from the federally-funded research on paid family leave in WA

Last week Gov. Inslee’s office released some research on paid family leave.

Labor policy reprieves, in Seattle and the nation

Some updates from the past week on the status of the federal overtime rule and funding for Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS):

Will the new federal overtime rule survive the change in administration?

The Skagit Valley Herald has a story about how the new federal overtime rule will affect employers and employees in Skagit County. The salary threshold that determines which employees are eligible for overtime will about double to $47,476 on Dec. 1.

What will happen to the rule given the results of the presidential election? The story quotes Mount Vernon attorney Kimberly Geariety:

How will I-1433 be implemented?

Washington voters have approved Initiative 1433, which increases the minimum wage and mandates paid sick leave in Washington. As Opportunity Washington notes, this is part of a broader national strategy. Washington’s minimum wage has been the highest state minimum wage in the nation for years—until this year. Next year, thanks to I-1433, it will return to the top, and will remain there until 2020 (if current law in the states stands).

Recommended: Marketplace on ag and tech in Washington

I recommend this Marketplace story: Strange Bedfellows: What farms and tech startups have in common. Reporter Kai Ryssdal came to Washington and talked to farmers in the Yakima Valley and Auburn about their operations and labor needs. Then he went to a startup in Seattle.

The common factor noted in the story's headline is immigration, and how important it is to both industries.

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