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SeaTac Airport's Minimum Wage Workers Might Not Get Raise

Image: SeaTac Airport's Minimum Wage Workers Might Not Get Raise

Thursday, 02 Jan 2014 02:36 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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After the city of SeaTac voted to raise the minimum wage in November, many employees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will not see the increase they hoped for after a Washington state judge ruled that a local ballot initiative boosting minimum wages to $15 an hour does not apply to them.

While not striking down the law approved by the city of SeaTac voters in November altogether, Judge Andrea Darva ruled that the Sea-Tac airport is under jurisdiction of the Port of Seattle. SeaTac, which encompasses the airport, has limited influence over it, according to CNN.

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"The Washington state legislature has clearly and unequivocally stated its intent that municipalities other than the Port of Seattle may not exercise any jurisdiction or control over Sea-Tac Airport operations, or the laws and rules governing those operations," Darvas said, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Workers at the airport make $9.32 an hour at minimum, the statewide rate that increased with inflation.

Advocates for Yes! For SeaTac filed an appeal with the Washington state Supreme Court. They said that 4,700 employees of airlines, contractors, shops, and hotels will miss out on the minimum wage increase, but it will still apply for another 1,600 workers outside of the airport.

"While we appreciate the judge's affirmation of parts of SeaTac Proposition 1, the voters approved the entire ordinance, not just parts of it," Yes For SeaTac spokeswoman Heather Weiner said in a statement to the Post-Intelligencer. "People working at the airport need paid sick days, tip protection, job security and a $15 (an) hour wage to support their families."

SeaTac narrowly passed the minimum wage increase. Alaska Airlines, one of the airport's largest carriers, was among one of several businesses filing a lawsuit against the minimum wage law.

Paul McElroy, a spokesman for Alaska Airlines, told CNN Tuesday that the company "believes in fair pay and benefits for all workers and we respect every worker and the job they do. This lawsuit is not about $15 an hour — it's about an initiative that violated state and federal law."

Washington state has the country's highest state minimum wage, at $9.19 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

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