OOBT

1. Unionized local grocery workers at Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC, and Albertson's have overwhelmingly authorized a strike and set up picket lines over stalled labor contract terms, the PI.com reports.

The vote doesn't mean the workers will necessarily strike, but it does allow the union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 to strike and set up picket lines if they can't reach agreement with their employers, who want to lower their holiday pay, keep wages at the same level, and require part-time workers to get health care through the new government health-care program.

2. A new study by Puget Sound Sage (sorry, Sage, we wanted to write about it ourselves, but there's a mayor's race going on and we're hella slammed, as the kids say) concludes that not only will a $15 minimum wage for hospitality and transportation workers in SeaTac will help workers' bottom line, it will boost the economy by some $54 million, the Seattle Times reports. That's because when workers have extra money to spend, it creates economic activity, which translates into jobs.

The current Washington state minimum wage is $9.19 an hour; activists in Seattle are agitating to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 an hour, and both mayoral candidates have, to varying degrees, said they support the idea.

3. A couple of months after the scope of the environmental impact statement about the proposed coal terminal near Bellingham was broadened (the Army Corps of Engineers initially said they would only study the immediate impacts of the terminal on the region, but now the state, at least, will include factors such as the impact of burning coal in China), activists in Spokane are asking for the same thing in response to a proposed coal terminal in Longview, the Spokesman-Review reports. 

"Inland Northwest residents turned out in force in Spokane on Wednesday evening to persuade officials that a proposed West Side shipping terminal’s potential environmental impacts reach far beyond its site on the lower Columbia River." 

The $600 million terminal would, like the Bellingham terminal, ship coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana to points east, including China.

4. Peter Callaghan at the News Tribune is amused by the antics of some lawbreaking lawmakers, who've come forward in droves to demonstrate that they pay their speeding tickets instead of asking police officers to give them a free pass, as they're allowed to do under a provision in the state constitution that says the executive branch can't use police powers to keep legislators from getting to the Capitol. 

"Apparently the years of emotional abuse [reporters] have heaped on them has created people who would rather admit to exceeding speed limits and endangering themselves and others than acknowledge that they get special treatment," Callaghan writes, citing nearly a half-dozen legislators who have come clean to reporters since his paper ran the story about the legislators' ticket exemption about speeding tickets they've received and paid. 

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