$15 Minimum Wage for SeaTac Airport Struck Down

Kathleen Jercich

Voters who approved a minimum wage of $15 an hour for the city of SeaTac, Wash., may have to put a hold on their celebration. On Friday, December 27, King County Superior Judge Andrea Darvas struck down part of Proposition 1, ruling that it could not apply to workers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport itself. That excludes more than 4,700 workers; now, only 1,600 public employees will receive the wage boost, paid sick days, tip protection and job security mandated by the measure. The issue is one of jurisdiction, the Associated Press explains: Darvas said the state Legislature has given municipalities like the Port of Seattle "exclusive jurisdiction" over their operations. … The challenge to the newly approved measure is led by Alaska Airlines Group and other businesses. The opposition put forward several legal challenges in their court filings, but focused on the initiatives jurisdiction, saying the city measure doesn't have power over the airport, which is operated by the Port of Seattle. The Port of Seattle agreed. And so did the judge. Given that much of the campaign for Proposition 1 hinged on improving conditions for airport workers, Judge Darvas' decision to exclude them is certainly a disappointment for activists. But advocates haven't given up hope yet: They plan to file an expedited appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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Kathleen Jercich is an assistant editor at In These Times. Her work has appeared in Sacramento News and Review, BUST Magazine and on The Rumpus and Bitch Media blogs.
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