Fair Work Center Helps Workers Muddle Through New Labor Standards

In the past three years, Seattle has enacted four new citywide laws, and it’s not just the $15 minimum wage. There’s the Job Assistance ordinance, which limits how employers can use criminal records; the Wage Theft ordinance, which offers protections when employers illegally withhold pay; and the Paid Sick and Safe Time ordinance, which ensures that employees accrue paid time off for illness. 

But understanding their ins and outs, or even recognizing when an employer is violating them, can be tricky. To help workers navigate these new laws, local policy experts and community organizers created a new nonprofit called the Fair Work Center. 

“It’s a one-stop shop to figure out what to do when your rights are violated at work,” said Director Nicole Vallestero Keenan. Read the full story at at realchangenews.org.

Confused About Your Rights As a Worker? A New Non-Profit Has You Covered

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Following the recent raising of the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 an hour, many employees in the Emerald City may be a little confused about their rights. The Fair Work Center, a non-profit, has launched and will partner with a law clinic at the University of Washington. “Seattle is fortunate to have a suite of newly adopted labor laws, including one of the highest minimum wages in the country,” said Fair Work Center’s Director Nicole Vallestero Keenan. The center will help workers make sense of their rights under city laws about paid sick leave, wage theft protections and other issues as well as the minimum wage.

Fair Work Center Launches to Help Workers Navigate Seattle’s New Labor Laws

SEATTLE—With new wage laws now in effect in Seattle, the nonprofit Fair Work Center has launched to help workers better understand their rights and the city’s labor standards.

“Seattle is fortunate to have a suite of newly adopted labor laws, including one of the highest minimum wages in the country,” said Director Nicole Vallestero Keenan. “Fair Work Center has been established to help workers make sense of their rights to paid sick leave, wage theft protections, minimum wage and more.”

Read more at the Eastside Business Journal.

Los Angeles mayor enacts $15-an-hour minimum wage

LOS ANGELES — In becoming the largest city in the country to mandate a $15-an-hour minimum wage, Los Angeles could put the pressure on other cities in what is sure to become a potent issue in next year’s presidential election.

Mayor Eric Garcetti signed the measure into law Saturday. It will require employers to gradually raise minimum wages until they reach $15 an hour. The first step comes in July, 2016, when the minimum wage becomes $10.50. Then, each following year, it will rise another another step — $12, $13.50, $14.25 and then $15.

Read more at USAToday.

Seattle’s minimum wage raise gave me the breathing room I needed

On January 1st, Whole Foods decided to raise our wages four months earlier than the April 1st implementation date, to $11 an hour. That was the first step to $15, which has a phase-in period and would reach $15 in 2017 for large companies.

My increase translated to about $120 more a month. Before this, I didn’t have a smartphone, and I was able to put that extra income towards purchasing a phone through my family’s plan. That purchase was actually key to obtaining a new job as a delivery driver at a local sushi restaurant in March 2015, where I earn more from tips, because I was able to use that phone as a GPS to navigate around Seattle.

Aside from that major purchase, the wage increase has given my wife and I some breathing room, and allows us to take a day every once in a while to get take-out from a restaurant, as well as being a little healthier in our choices at the grocery store.

Read more at the Guardian.

How Strategic Enforcement Fuels Compliance with Labor Laws

When we fill up our tanks, we’re aware of the price we’re paying for gas. But for those of us who live in New Jersey or Oregon, or have ever passed through a station that employs attendants to pump gas, did you stop to think about the wages paid to that attendant? At the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, that’s what I think about. And we’re working to ensure that employers in this industry hit the gas on efforts to pay properly at the pump.

New Jersey is one of the two states (along with Oregon) where motorists are prohibited from pumping their own gas. Gas stations in New Jersey employ thousands of attendants − typically vulnerable, low-wage workers who are, for a variety of reasons, at risk for working under conditions where they are not paid all of the wages legally due them.

Read more at here from DOL.

Enforcing $15 wage: Job unfilled a week before law goes into effect

In November, the Seattle City Council looked ahead to the new minimum wage law and approved the creation of an Office of Labor Standards within Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights. The office is generally tasked with ensuring fair working conditions, safety and general labor standards, but its establishment was with a specific eye toward enforcing Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance, set to begin taking effect on April 1.

With less than a week until the minimum wage goes up to $11 an hour at the largest companies, however, the office does not have a director…

Read the full article at Crosscut.com.

Minimum Wage Increase Killing Seattle Restaurants? Anatomy Of A Lie From Inside The Bubble

It all began with a story published earlier this month in a local, Seattle lifestyle magazine, complete with a headline designed to tweak the interest of the reader while bearing little relationship to the facts of the actual printed story it heralds.

It was a story that chronicled the coming closure of four popular restaurants in the city of Seattle—a city that will soon experience a substantial rise in the minimum wage paid to restaurant workers…

Read the story at Forbes.com