Washington state’s minimum wage increases by 15 cents to $9.19 an hour starting on New Year’s Day, the state Department of Labor & Industries announced today.
The state’s minimum wage is adjusted each year for inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index over the past 12 months, which is up 1.67 percent. The yearly recalculation is required by Initiative 688, which Washington voters passed in 1998.
While Washington’s current minimum wage rate is already the highest state minimum, the city of San Francisco has the nation’s highest minimum wage, which topped the double-digit mark this year at $10.24 per hour. Oregon’s rate will jump to $8.95 on Jan. 1, up from its current rate of $8.80. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.
Amtrak workers failing drug tests
WASHINGTON – The conductors, mechanics and engineers who operate Amtrak’s trains have been testing positive for drugs and alcohol more and more frequently over the last six years, a government watchdog said Friday. Drug and alcohol use by Amtrak operating employees in safety-sensitive positions far exceeds the national average for the railroad industry, Amtrak’s inspector general said in a report warning of serious safety risks.
Amtrak’s mechanics and signal operators had the highest rate in 2011, testing positive for drugs four times as often as those working for other railroads. Although Amtrak also tests for alcohol, the larger problem in recent years has been with drugs – specifically cocaine and marijuana.
Bank of America to pay $2.43 billion
WASHINGTON – Bank of America says it has agreed to pay $2.43 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit related to its acquisition of Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis.
In the lawsuit, shareholders alleged that Bank of America and some of its officers made false or misleading statements about both companies’ financial health.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of investors who bought or held Bank of America stock when the company announced its plans to buy Merrill Lynch in a $20 billion deal as the banking industry and federal regulators struggled to contain fallout from the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.