OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – Many of the Amazon employees in the Seattle area would be exempt from new labor protection in a bill adopted by the State Senate after tech giant lobbyists pushed to change a key threshold in the rules. 19659002] The protections would partially ban competition clauses – controversial agreements used by technology companies and others to block employees from going to work for competitors or starting rival startups.
Lawmakers say Amazon lobbied to have the income threshold set at a level likely to avoid many workers in Seattle.
The effort came as the company has expanded its presence in the state's capital, where the expenses have tripled in recent years.
The bill passed the Washington State Senate Tuesday with the salary threshold of $ 1
Median salaries for Amazon employees in Seattle are around $ 113,000, according to Glassdoor.com, a company that tracks top companies.
Other provisions require some protection for workers making more than $ 100,000, including an 18-month limit on any competition clauses they sign and a requirement that employees must be compensated while they are barred from working.
The measure now leads to the State House for treatment.  Millions of US workers sign competition agreements. A handful of states, including California, prohibit such agreements.
Other companies joined in talks on the Washington State Bill, as well as groups like the Washington Business Association and the Washington State Hospital Association.
They were also concerned with retaining trade secrets and intellectual property, but remained open to block the use of competitive contracts for lower paid workers.
Democratic Sens. Marko Liias by Lynwood and Rep. Derek Stanford of Bothell, sponsors of House and Senate versions of the bill, told Amazon that the lower threshold was a priority.
"They have a lot of relaxation," Stanford said. "Amazon said, if it's over this number, we oppose.
Amazon stopped approving a previous action over the same issue, even after Microsoft signed," Stanford said.
Stanford, who filed a change to lower the threshold of the bill to the level that Amazon requested, it came down to simple arithmetic: the opposition of a large employer in the state would vote against the bill.
Amazon defended its lobbying.
"Like anybody Other activities we work with elected officials, so they understand how proposed regulations will affect our more than 50,000 employees and the growth of our state operations, says company spokeswoman Aaron Toso.
Republican late Curtis King of Yakima voted in favor of the move and later said that the threshold was appropriate and would help companies protect their intellectual property while receiving low-wage workers.
Amazon's pressure on the bill came after the company tripled its spending on lobbying in the state's capital, in the context of a more confident attitude towards city governments around the country.
Last year, the company came in an aggressive effort that helped to abolish a corporate tax in Seattle.
In 2017, the company dangled high paying jobs and billions of dollars in investments as incentives for cities to host their new headquarters. The municipalities quickly turned to tax breaks and other lucrative incentives to lure the company.
In the Washington state, corporate spending on lobbyists jumped from $ 114,000 in 2014 to $ 358,000 in 2016, according to Amazon's filing with the State Publications Commission. It spent $ 679,000 in 2017 and $ 333,000 in 2018.
It puts it behind Microsoft, but ahead of Google and Facebook in spending on lobbying in the state.