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

Construction begins soon in eastern Oregon for the first commercial-scale "torrefaction" facility in the country. If you don't know what that word means, you're in good company. 

But the process itself isn't all that exotic. 

You're forgiven if you missed the fact that Congress failed to renew the federal Farm Bill before the September 30 deadline. But people in farm country around the Pacific Northwest noticed.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

Amazon will pay all of its U.S. employees a minimum of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The retail giant, run by the world's richest man, was criticized earlier this year after revealing its workers' median pay was $28,446.

Amazon says the new rate will go into effect on Nov. 1, covering all of its full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees in the U.S.

Services Employees International Union 775, a driving force for policy change throughout Washington state, has a new leader. Sterling Harders takes over as president of the local union Monday.

Retaliatory tariffs levied by China on U.S. goods are taking a toll on Pacific Northwest farm exports. Details about cancelled orders came out Wednesday at a state Senate committee hearing in Seattle.

Uber is paying $148 million to settle claims over the ride-hailing company's cover-up of a data breach in 2016, when hackers stole personal information of some 25 million customers and drivers in the U.S.

Hackers are using various forms of digital skullduggery to steal frequent flyer miles from customers of Delta, Alaska and other airlines. The thieves then resell the miles on the dark web.

In the last few years, rock-bottom electricity rates have attracted bitcoin miners and other virtual currency entrepreneurs to central Washington state. But in Chelan and Grant counties, that lure may be on the wane because of looming power price hikes.


The Chinese government announced on Tuesday that it would impose tariffs on $60 billion more of U.S. exports. This widens the range of Pacific Northwest companies caught in the trade crossfire.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Longtime leader David Rolf is leaving his position as president of Service Employees International Union 775. First elected in 2003, he was the founding president of the local chapter.

Amazon's stock value briefly topped $1 trillion on Tuesday, a little over a month after Apple crossed the same milestone.

The tech and retail behemoth, founded as an online bookstore by CEO Jeff Bezos in 1994, has been consistently profitable only since 2015. In fact, Amazon profits have averaged $2 billion in each of the first two quarters of this year.

One of the largest supermarket companies in the U.S. has announced it is phasing out single-use plastic bags in an effort to reduce plastic waste.

The Kroger Co. says it plans to stop distributing single-use bags completely by 2025 across its chains.

The craft brewing industry in the Pacific Northwest is starting to feel pain from the Trump administration's steel and aluminum tariffs. Those metals are made into beer cans, kegs and fermentation tanks.

During every berry picking season in the Pacific Northwest, blueberry and raspberry growers fight to prevent birds from gobbling up the crop before they can harvest it. This year, some farmers are trying something new and high tech to scare away the thieving birds.

Seven national fast-food chains have agreed, under pressure, to eliminate a practice that limits their workers' ability to take jobs at other restaurants in the same chain, the Washington state attorney general announced Thursday.

Starbucks announced on Monday it plans to eliminate plastic straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.

The company will broaden the manufacture and use of what some in social media have dubbed the "adult sippy cup." It's a plastic strawless lid that will come to replace single-use plastic straws that now inundate its coffee shops.

In the shadow of remote Dry Mountain in central Oregon, branding is the only way to guarantee a fair sorting of cattle among ranchers in the fall. Ear tags can rub off in the rough, sage-studded country.

So each year, before cattle are let out to graze on the summer range, the young are branded, castrated and vaccinated. Neighbors gather in the early morning to do the work.

Trade was at the forefront of the conversation with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Monday in Spokane.

U.S. beef ranchers who voted heartily for President Donald Trump are getting a bit skittish about his trade wars. International tariffs are set to hit U.S. beef the first week of July.

Ely Dar was going about her nightly turn-down service rounds at a Westin hotel in downtown Seattle when she knocked on a hotel room door.

A male guest invited her in, and as she was preparing the ice bucket on the table, she suddenly felt something on her back.

"I feel the guest on my back, and then the guest [hugged] me. I'm so scared," she tells Here & Now's Robin Young. "And then I turn around and then I push him, and then I ran away."

In a large, brightly lit grocery store in Canada's capital Ottawa, Scott Chamberlain smoothly navigates his shopping cart through the produce section, looking for ingredients to make chili. He snaps up a bag of red peppers, clearly stamped "Product of Canada." But the only onions available are from the U.S. He reaches for Canadian-grown leeks instead.

Ed Ronco / KNKX

There’s a photo in the hallway of the Port of Port Angeles offices, just down the hall from the office of executive director Karen Goschen. It was taken in the 1980s, from a high angle, looking down at four ships moored at the dock. They’re surrounded by big collections of floating logs.

“It is dramatically different than the number of vessels we have today,” Goschen said.

On a cold December night last year, a meeting was called in the lobby of my apartment building. Concerned residents gathered to discuss a matter of great import: what to do about the swarms of packages jamming the lobby closet and overflowing into the entryway.

Unclaimed boxes were an eyesore and a nuisance. Finding the right package was starting to require gymnastic ability. And the boxes kept coming, by the dozens, maybe hundreds. Most of them were from Amazon: brown, with a smile on the side.

Updated at 9:14 a.m. ET

Mexico is putting tariffs on imports of U.S. steel and farm products — including pork, cheese, apples and potatoes — as it hits back at the U.S. for the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum products from Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

Signed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, the decree also suspends the country's preferential tariff treatment of the U.S. It was published in Mexico's official gazette on Tuesday.

After U.S. tariffs on imports of European steel and aluminum took effect Friday morning, the EU's top trade commissioner called them "illegal" and a classic case of protectionism.

The EU plans to make its case to the World Trade Organization.

It only covers about 178 workers, but it's still a union foothold: Flight-readiness technicians and inspectors at Boeing's factory in North Charleston, S.C., voted to unionize on Thursday, more than a year after a broader union vote failed at the plant that makes Boeing 787 airliners.

The workers will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, despite intense resistance from Boeing.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that information submitted by Uber and Lyft to the city of Seattle falls under the category of trade secrets, but the court said that information may still be subject to public disclosure under state law.

A simultaneous training session for 175,000 employees, across more than 8,000 stores — that's what Starbucks is doing Tuesday, urging its workers and managers to discuss racial bias and respect following the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store last month.

For the sessions, many Starbucks stores will shut down in the afternoon and stay closed for several hours. A sign at one location in Chicago, for instance, says the store will be locking its doors at 2:30 p.m. and reopening on Wednesday. Other stores have posted similar notices.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently failed to pass a farm bill and Northwest farmers are worried that the process is not plowing ahead.

Will James / KNKX

Leaders of Pierce County and nine of its cities lined up inside a cavernous data center Tuesday and came just short of making a direct appeal for companies to flee Seattle's taxes for the South Sound. 

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