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Delta hoping to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi, CEO says

Delta Air Lines hopes to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi to all of its passengers, the company’s chairman said Friday.

>> Read more trending news 

Chief Operating Officer Ed Bastian told an audience at the Skift Global Forum that while there was no specific timeline for the free connectivity, it would happen soon, Forbes reported.

“I don’t know of anywhere else, besides in an airplane, that you can’t get free Wi-Fi,” Bastian said. “We’re going to make it free.”

The Atlanta-based airline launched Wi-Fi service for international flights in 2014 five years after beginning Wi-Fi service on domestic flights. Customers desiring Wi-Fi had to pay a fee.

Working remotely can be advantageous for those in business flying on international flights or for those who fly regularly, Forbes reported.

Some companies, like Philippine Airlines and Qatar Airways, offer free Wi-Fi for a limited time, the magazine reported. Other companies, like Scandinavian Airlines and Turkish Airlines, offer free Wi-Fi to frequent flyers while charging other passengers, Forbes reported.

Delta leads in global rankings of Wi-Fi accessible total available seat miles, the magazine reported. United is second; JetBlue has been offering free in-flight Wi-Fi since early 2017.

Starbucks baristas say they were poked by discarded drug needles

Image after image provided to Seattle's KIRO-TV reveal what three baristas claim they dispose of nearly every day while on the job at Starbucks: hypodermic needles they say were left behind by drug users.

>> Watch the news report here

All three employees also produced hospital, pharmacy and insurance receipts that show they took anti-viral medications to protect them from AIDS and hepatitis – after all three were poked by needles while on the job.

"(Needle users) put them in the tampon disposal boxes in the bathrooms, and we have to dig them out,” one barista recently said.

The three baristas all spoke with KIRO

Only one was willing to be interviewed on camera, as long as her identity was hidden. 

“I don’t want to lose my job for being the only one willing to say, 'Someone listen to me. Do something about this. My friends are at risk,'" she said.

At the employees' north Seattle-area Starbucks, co-workers document when needles are found, leaving notes asking, "How many more baristas have to get poked before we get disposals in bathrooms?"

For a while, they even shared medication to avoid illness if pricked because in the past 12 months, three baristas have been, according to medical documents provided to KIRO

That practice was abandoned as soon as the employees learned sharing medication could get their manager in trouble.

However, the frustration remains. 

“That’s three of us now, in one location,” the barista who spoke on camera said. 

She and the two other baristas would like Starbucks to install locked needle disposal boxes in all restrooms, especially in cafes, where drug use is more common. 

“I’m pretty sure it looks worse to have your baristas continuously exposed to HIV and hep C and hep B” than to have locked boxes for needle disposal in areas open to the public, the barista said. 

Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges confirmed to KIRO that at least two Seattle-area baristas have been poked by hypodermic needles while on the job, but Borges claims that since early 2017, all employees have been retrained on what steps to take when hypodermic needles are found.

He also disputed baristas’ claims they must “dig” needles out of trash bins. If an employee is "ever in a position where they don't feel comfortable completing a task, they are empowered to remove themselves from the situation and alert a manager," according to Borges, who would not agree to an on-camera interview.

KIRO confirmed that Starbucks made the training changes after a 2016 investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries fined the company and determined it was not ensuring "that regulated waste, such as contaminated hypodermic syringes, are handled properly and safely” at Starbucks’ 6th and Pine location in downtown Seattle.

There are “requirements for employers to make sure they’re protecting their employees and not let this happen to them, if at all possible,” according to L&I spokesperson Tim Church.

>> Starbucks to phase out plastic straws at all locations

When asked if L&I is satisfied with how Starbucks is protecting its employees now, Church said, “In the situation we cited and fined them for, clearly they understood the issues and told us they were moving ahead with the things we pointed out to them.”

Safe needle disposal is certainly not just a challenge for Starbucks. 

With intravenous drug use on the rise, locked needle disposal boxes are widely sold online. 

Many Seattle parks now have them to protect parkgoers. 

The Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, in Seattle, installed locked needle disposal boxes in its restrooms earlier this year to provide a safe disposal option for sharps. 

Employee Jeff Coyne told KIRO in February that the locked boxes “encourage the safe practice of disposing” of needles.

However, L&I’s Church admits, even when the public has access to locked needle boxes inside bathrooms, employee safety is not guaranteed. 

Such boxes “deal with some of the issue, but I don’t think they deal with the entire issue,” Church told KIRO. “You’re still going to have a certain number of folks who are going to take that needle and throw it in the trash, so you can’t take a sharps box and assume the problem has been solved and not teach your employees to handle garbage safely,” Church said.

According to Borges, all Starbucks cafes already have sharps boxes in employee-only areas so baristas can safely dispose of any needles using gloves and tongs.

>> Read more trending news 

After KIRO started asking questions about the three baristas poked while on the job this past year, Borges confirmed there have been "ongoing conversations about adding additional protections and procedures to further ensure the safety" of employees, including "exploring installing sharps boxes in the bathrooms of our stores where it would help address the issue."

That development is welcome news to the baristas KIRO interviewed, who all said the needle problem has grown since Starbucks opened its restrooms to everyone – even nonpaying customers – this past May.

“Because you don’t have to bother with purchasing anything, needles have definitely increased,” one said.

In response, Borges told KIRO that Starbucks’ Third Place Policy – which opened its restrooms to all – still has rules that must be followed.

The baristas, however, claim it’s difficult to enforce those rules behind a locked door.

Amazon hikes minimum wage to $15 for employees nationwide

Amazon is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its U.S. employees, the company announced early Tuesday.

According to a news release, the change, effective Nov. 1, affects more than 250,000 employees and 100,000 seasonal workers. The new minimum wage includes all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers nationwide.

>> Read more trending news 

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

The company also plans to “begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage,” the news release said.

“We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country,” Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs, said in a statement

Read more here.

Dunkin' Donuts, Harpoon Brewery launch coffee porter beer

Love beer? Love coffee? We have great news for you.

Two New England staples, Harpoon Brewery and Dunkin', have partnered up to bring you a new taste for fall: the Harpoon Dunkin' Coffee Porter.

>> On Boston25News.com: Just Dunkin': Dunkin' Donuts to change its name

Starting this week, beer and coffee lovers across the East Coast can enjoy the taste of Dunkin's Espresso Blend Coffee combined with Harpoon's notable craft beer.

A balanced and smooth brew offering robust and roasty notes, Dunkin’ Coffee Porter was created by Harpoon as a tribute to all the days that Dunkin’ has helped the brew masters fire up the brew kettle.

At 6 percent ABV, Dunkin’ Coffee Porter is a malty tasting brew that has a smooth mouthfeel with aromas of espresso and dark chocolate.

Launched on Sept. 27 during Dunktoberfest, the aptly named introduction to Harpoon's annual Octoberfest event, beer lovers were able to taste the Harpoon Dunkin' Coffee Porter a week before anyone else.

The new brew will be available throughout the fall, in both 12 oz. bottles and draft at select locations.

>> Read more trending news 

“Our brands have such passionate, loyal fans, who start their busy day with a cup of Dunkin’ coffee and end it by enjoying one of Harpoon’s famous craft beers," said Tony Weisman, Dunkin’ U.S. chief marketing officer. "We’re thrilled to now finally bring the two together, partnering with one of the most respected craft breweries in the country to offer coffee lovers and beer enthusiasts alike a classic new taste to celebrate the season.”

“Dunkin’ has been there for us since the early days when getting the brewery up and running required a lot of beer, and even more coffee,” said Dan Kenary, CEO and co-founder of Harpoon Brewery. “We couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute to the company that’s helped fuel our success than to create something special for our fans by combining the taste of their favorite morning brew with one of ours.”

To find the closest Harpoon Dunkin' Coffee Porter to you, visit Harpoon Brewery's beer finder on their site here.

Sonic to be sold to Arby's owner Inspire Brands for $2.3 billion

Atlanta-based Inspire Brands is buying Sonic in a $2.3 billion deal that will dramatically boost its size and reach, the companies announced Tuesday morning.

Sonic, which operates a chain of 3,500 restaurants with hundreds of franchisees, has about $4.4 billion in revenues – more than half the $7.6 billion in sales racked up by Inspire.

In a statement, Inspire officials called Sonic “an ideal fit for Inspire’s multi-brand portfolio.”

They praised Sonic for its “unique brand positioning,” as well as its innovation – especially in its use of digital technologies – and its solid financial performance.

Inspire, which is one of the 10 largest restaurant companies in the United States, has branches in 16 countries. 

>> PREVIOUSLY: Arby's closes $2.9 billion deal with Buffalo Wild Wings, forms new company

The company was formed early this year as the umbrella corporate management of several chains, the largest of which is Arby’s, with 3,400 restaurants, and Buffalo Wild Wings, which includes 1,250 restaurants. It also owns Rusty Tacos, which owns 25 restaurants.

Inspire is majority-owned by Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group, which has a series of franchises that generate $32 billion in revenues, according to the firm’s web site. Roark’s holdings include CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s, the Corner Bakery and FOCUS Brands, whose holdings include Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon and Schlotzsky’s.

The company has more than 150,000 employees. 

>> Read more trending news 

The transaction is a stock deal based on a 19 percent premium to the closing price of Sonic stock on Monday, officials said. Inspire will pay $43.50 a share for the company.

Sonic is based in Oklahoma City and will continue to operate from there as a business unit of Inspire, officials said. Sonic, which calls itself “America’s Drive In,” is a 65-year-old chain.

Inspire has about $7.6 billion in sales, while Sonic has about $4.4 billion in revenues, according to the companies.

Scam alert: Fake Microsoft rep hijacks woman's computer, charges $3K to 'fix' it

A 66-year-old West Chester Township, Ohio, woman is out about $3,300 after someone claiming to be a Microsoft representative allegedly took over her computer, caused a problem and charged her to fix it.

Township spokeswoman Barb Wilson explained how the scam worked.

>> On Journal-News.com: Police investigating $20,000 cellphone heist 

“It appears as if the victim bought something off the internet which was not a legitimate Microsoft product,” Wilson said. “From this transaction, the individual gained her contact information and access to her computer. The ‘rep’ said the computer issue could be fixed with payment made with Google gift cards, which she provided.”

>> Read more trending news 

The incident is still under investigation.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen gives $30M to house homeless, low-income families

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is spending $30 million to house 94 homeless and low-income families in south Seattle.

>> On KIRO7.com: Prefab units could help solve affordable housing crisis

The Seattle Times reports that Allen’s donation to the Mount Baker Family Housing development is the largest funding piece for the project. Allen has been partnered with the project throughout its design process. Mercy Housing Northwest and Mary’s Place will help run the eight-story complex a block away from the Mount Baker Link light rail station. Half of the units are reserved for homeless families. The other half will be for low-income families of three.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

The bottom floor will be a resource center for families who need help finding day care services, after-school programs or homeless diversion.

The construction project will cost $46 million in total. The Paul G. Allen Philanthropies donated the $30 million. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office is also providing $5 million to the project. Another $10 million is coming from a housing tax credit.

>> Read more trending news 

It’s the largest in a series of donations Allen has made in recent months which have drawn attention. His investment firm Vulcan donated $25,000 to help defeat the Seattle City Council’s head tax. Allen has also donated $100,000 to help Republicans keep control of the House. He is also helping to fund Blokable, a Seattle startup aiming to revolutionize affordable housing.

Allen’s donation comes nearly one week after another Seattle tech giant announced he is providing funds to tackle homelessness. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is targeting $2 million at organizations serving homeless communities, such as Mary’s Place. He is also using the money to fund “Montessori inspired” early childhood education centers in low-income areas.

Nordstrom's taped-up, $530 'distressed' shoes sell out

Update 11:11 a.m. EDT Sept. 23:  They looked like trash, but they sold like gold.Nordstrom's "Golden Goose Superstar Taped Sneaker" has sold out, according to the department store's website. The shoes sold for $530 online and were manufactured to look worn out and scuffed with duct tape across the wearer's toes.

Original report: If you're looking to buy a pair of trashed sneakers with duct tape across the toe, Seattle-based Nordstrom has you covered. 

For $530, Nordstrom is selling the Superstar Taped Sneaker made by Golden Goose. 

>> See the shoes here

"Crumply, hold-it-all-together tape details a distressed leather sneaker in a retro low profile with a signature sidewall star and a grungy rubber cupsole," a description for the shoe reads

>> Read more trending news 

Not “distressed” enough for you? Nordstrom shoppers also can buy the Maison Margiela Fusion Sneaker for $1,645.

"With style pieced together from an array of options, this eye-catching Italian sneaker offers an edgy twist on a classic look,” the description reads.

>> See the shoe here

Customers with questions are asked to chat with Nordstrom representatives here or call 1-877-543-7463.

Click here for more information on shipping and returns. 

Kohl's will hire 90,000 seasonal employees

Kohl’s is hiring for the holidays.

>> Read more trending news 

The department store chain announced Thursday that it plans to hire 90,000 seasonal employees nationally for more than 1,100 stores, nine distribution centers, and five-commerce fulfillment centers and credit centers, WTKR reported.

“Our early strategy is working and we’ve already hired thousands of associates to help us deliver an excellent omni-channel shopping experience of customers. On the heels of our early hiring efforts, we continue to see momentum in hiring at all locations with talented candidates interested in joining our team, and we are making significant efforts to keep this momentum going throughout the season,” said Ryan Festerling, Kohl’s executive vice president of human resources.

The temporary employees will receive an immediate 15 percent discount from the store, and a 35 percent discount to use in-store and online with no exclusions, WTKR reported. 

Seasonal associates have the opportunity to be considered for open full-time and part-time positions after the season ends, Festerling said.

Kohl’s will be holding a hiring event on Oct. 20 at selected Kohl’s stores. Click here for more information.

UPS hiring 100,000 workers for holiday shipping season

UPS said it is hiring about 100,000 temporary workers for the holiday shipping season.

The jobs are to help handle the huge volume of packages shipped starting in November through January 2019.

>> Read more trending news 

The full-time and part-time seasonal jobs are for package handlers, drivers and driver-helpers, and can be an entry point for a full-time job at the shipping giant.

Many UPS executives, including CEO David Abney, started out as part-time workers, and the company says about 35 percent of the people hired as seasonal package handlers get permanent positions after the holidays.

Those interested can apply at UPSjobs.com.

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