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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: jobs

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November 12, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Why Washingtonians should care more about trade

Most people don’t think much about trade. Sure, we all know the goods we buy at the store had to come from somewhere, but do most people stop and think about where that somewhere is or how the movement happened? Probably not often.

I spent several hours Monday hearing from a variety of experts, business executives and politicians (including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray), discuss the role of trade in Washington and how to strengthen what is a vital industry in the state. The Washington Trade Conference pulled together a few hundred people who care, and know, a lot about trade.

A container ship entering the Port of Seattle. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

A container ship entering the Port of Seattle. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Let’s face it, trade isn’t the most riveting topic. But, here is a juicy tidbit gleaned from the conference: In Washington, about 40 percent of jobs are related to trade. That means close to 850,000 jobs in the state involve production of goods from apples to airplanes as well as transportation, handling and shipping of goods to other states or countries.

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Comments | Topics: jobs, Port of Seattle, trade

July 29, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Discuss: What do you think about SeaTac’s minimum-wage initiative?

SeaTac residents are on the verge of possibly voting for what would be the highest minimum wage in the country. This is the time to ask questions. Lot of them.

Last Tuesday, the SeaTac City Council voted to send the SeaTac Good Jobs Initiative to the November ballot without changes. It would have gone there regardless after Working Washington, an organizing arm of the Service Employees International Union, collected thousands of signatures in May.

Workers from Sea-Tac Airport held a rally Tuesday near SeaTac City Hall in support of a ballot measure that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for many airport workers. Then they marched to the city council meeting and filled the place to capacity while the council voted to put the measure on the ballot in November. (MARK HARRISON/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Workers from Sea-Tac Airport held a rally July 23, 2014 near SeaTac City Hall in support of a ballot measure that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for many airport workers. (MARK HARRISON/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Supporters of the proposal argue it will pull transportation and hospitality workers in and around Sea-Tac Airport out of poverty by increasing wages from $9.19 to $15, starting in January 2014.

However, some business owners say a hefty 62 percent increase in hourly wages would force them to close or limit hiring.

Initiative backers contend living-wage increases in other West Coast airports in San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco have not led to such dire consequences.

Expect a long and heavily funded debate on this issue. If the SeaTac initiative passes, it is likely to head to other cities in Washington. Look at what’s happening in Seattle alone, where Mayor Mike McGinn has opposed Whole Foods’ efforts to expand in West Seattle unless it increases worker pay and fast-food workers have filed complaints against employers for wage theft.

Here are some early questions and concerns about the initiative:

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Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: economy, jobs, minimum wage