Simone Alicea | KNKX

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

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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