Settlement reached on worker treatment

Eastern Washington

The state of Washington has reached a $230,000 settlement with a California-based labor contractor over treatment of 170 Thai workers brought onto fruit orchards in Eastern Washington last year. The settlement provides Global Horizons of San Mateo, Calif., with what the state calls "a limited opportunity for a second chance to continue operating ... "

As part of the settlement, Global must establish certain protections for the domestic and foreign workers it supplies to fruit growers and to pay past-due taxes and wages owed former workers.

Global became the first company to supply foreign workers to fruit growers in Eastern Washington last year. The state suspended its operating license after it was found in violation of numerous state and federal labor laws, but allowed Global to operate while the charges were being investigated.

Global has about 100 Thai workers on orchards in the Yakima Valley.


Oregon lawsuit targets gay-marriage ban

Gay-rights activists are suing the state of Oregon, saying that an amendment that voters added to the state's constitution last year banning gay marriage was unconstitutional.

Oregon was among the first states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples last year, when Portland's Multnomah County issued the licenses to about 3,000 same-sex couples before a court put a temporary halt to the marriages.

As a lawsuit over the marriages was moving through the courts, voters passed the amendment to Oregon's constitution. Eventually, Oregon's Supreme Court sided with the anti-gay marriage forces and nullified the marriages in April 2005.

Arguments are scheduled to be heard in Marion County Circuit Court in the state capital of Salem on Monday.

"The measure is just fine," said Christian Roggendorf, an attorney for the Defense of Marriage Coalition, which is named in the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the state did not comment, but in a brief said: "Regardless of the wisdom of the people's choice, however, plaintiffs' legal challenges to the measure fail."


Shirt's strip-club boast is a hit with teenagers

A T-shirt boasting about Oregon strip clubs has become a best seller for a major retailer that caters to teenagers.

The $18 T-shirt has become the most sought among 50 state-themed shirts rolled out last spring by Hot Topic, a mall-based retailer that sells edgy apparel for teens at about 600 stores nationwide.

The slogan says: "Come for the fishing. Stay for the strip clubs."

It turns out there's truth to the slogan, created by an employee at the retailer's outlet at Portland's Washington Square mall.

Oregon has 93 such clubs, or 2.6 per 100,000 residents — second only to West Virginia's 53 clubs, or 2.9 per 100,000 residents. Other states, led by Texas and Florida, have bigger total club numbers.

Times staff and news services