The harder they fall

BossFeed Briefing for September 25, 2017. Last Monday, Seattle city government continued its apparent transformation into a gig economy platform, announcing an open position for a temporary city councilmember on two weeks' notice after hiring two different mayors in less than a week (with a third on the way). Last Wednesday, Puerto Rico lost all electrical power when the island was hit by Hurricane Maria after previously being hit by several years of government austerity. Last Friday the latest effort in the U.S. Senate to slash healthcare appeared to sink for want of a single vote. And it is now officially autumn, which typically means winter is coming.

Demands issued by hunger strikers earlier this year at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma; image from

Demands issued by hunger strikers earlier this year at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma;
image from

Three things to know this week:


The people held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma have been getting just $1/day for their work cooking and serving food, doing laundry, cleaning, painting, and otherwise maintaining the facility. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has sued, charging the owners of the for-profit detention center with unlawful enrichment and violating the state's minimum wage law.

Amazon needs so many new employees to keep up with growth & turnover at its fulfillment centers that the retail and tech giant is advertising for sorting & packing jobs on twitter. Which creates one of those rare circumstances when it’s actually fun to read the comments

 Turns out Seattle’s minimum-wage increase has not affected supermarket prices. That’s what UW researchers found after comparing price changes at grocery stores inside Seattle vs. nearby stores outside the city limits.


Two things to ask:

Think they've learned their lesson? The state's lobby group for big retailers said that raising wages would “stifle economic growth” and that if secure scheduling became law it would be “the quickest road to economic disaster”. Both passed of course, and now the economy is in such a state that… the very same retail industry lobby group has launched a new initiative to recruit more retail workers to keep up with job growth.

Doesn’t it feel good to live in a bad market for this app? A start-up crowd-funding site called Take12 lets new parents register for “the gift of time,” so if your employer doesn't provide parental leave you can conveniently ask your friends & family to make up the difference at listed rates of $20 for a nap, $15 for a snuggle, etc. Here in Washington state we took a different approach, passing a law this year that will all provide all workers access to paid family leave.


And one thing that’s worth a closer look:


You may think the tiny little nation of Luxembourg is adorable, and yes, it is in fact charming that their capital is also called Luxembourg and their official language is Luxembourgish. But the country, which is the second wealthiest in the world terms of GDP per capita, profits immensely from its status as a European tax haven for giant corporations and the ultrawealthy. Now, as Atossa Araxia Abrahamian explores in The Guardian, this ittle bittle country is trying to undo the principle that outer space is a shared commons, working with private space corporations, intergalactic property rights attorneys, and creative policymakers in an effort to establish a legal framework through which they can become the on-earth financial center for the exploitation of minerals, metals, and other space resources. Local investors would of course take a cut along the way, confirming the country's status as a “paragon of parasitism.”


Read this far?


 Consider yourself briefed, boss.

Let us know what you think about this week's look at the world of work, wages, and inequality!

Let us know what you think about this week's look at the world of work, wages, and inequality!