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Airport workers demand $15 minimum wage approved by voters

SEATTLE — Sea-Tac International Airport workers packed a Port of Seattle meeting Tuesday, demanding a $15 minimum wage that voters in the city of SeaTac approved in November.

seatacIt’s the latest chapter of the battle that been fought this past year in the city.

“If I miss one day (of work), I’m behind on rent,” said baggage handler Weston Robinson.  “If I miss two days, behind more.”

Robinson and several others testified before Port of Seattle commissioners in their first meeting of the new year.

SeaTac voters approved a $15 minimum wage in the Nov. 5 general election.  But just a few weeks later, a judge threw out on technical grounds the part of the measure that applies to workers at the airport, which is governed by the Port of Seattle.  Those workers are now targeting the elected Port of Seattle commissioners to adopt the will of the voters in the city of SeaTac.

“I absolutely have to have roommates, or else I cannot make it,” said Mario Young, who also works as a baggage handler at the airport.  “I’m having trouble even furnishing my own apartment.”

The labor leaders that pushed for the SeaTac vote argue that nothing is stopping the Port of Seattle from enacting a $15 minimum wage on their own.

“The voters in SeaTac voted to raise the wages,” said Heather Weiner, spokeswoman for the SeaTac ballot measure.  “[The Port of Seattle] should cooperate with the City of SeaTac and raise wages for 4,700 people who are making our airport one of the best in the country.”

On Tuesday, port commissioners said they were committed to studying the issue and promised to have a “living wage” proposal by June, though they stopped short of committed to $15 an hour.

“We’re telling you we’re going to act,” said Commissioner Courtney Gregoire.  “We understand that there are pending legal matters out there, but we want to take this up.”

She said the voters have expressed their will and “we can’t ignore that.”

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4 comments

  • The World is Ending

    After getting $15 an hour, the workers will wait a bit of time then say that it is not enough that they can't pay the rent and want more something like $20-$25 an hour then if they get that it would be the same story, it don't matter how much money they get it would never be enough… How do I know this I have looked at the news where lotto winers that have won hundreds of millions of dollars and in just a few years are broke and in debt… It is money management… Remember the garbage workers who are making about a $100k saying that they are having trouble getting paying the bills.

  • JASON

    This is unbelievable if an employer pays his employee 15.00 an hour than that money has to come from somewhere and the cost of living goes up then bread is $20.00 and all these people are going to be crying for more money I make $14.00 an hour and if I won't more money I need to go back to school and learn to do something with a higher living wage. This is crazy why would an employer pay to train someone at 15.00 hr that means less jobs COME ON PEOPLE

  • Ron

    The Port Authority apparently nees to find that Magic Dust that creates money, esp. money people Voted to get…It is in the public's hands to vote on this? Really? Of course the public will vote on something that gives more money. The public as a whole is, unfortunately, just too stupid to understand economic checks and balances. As Jason commented above, this money has to come from somewhere, it is not just conjured up because you ask for it; the cost gets passed along, domino effect…1 person now will do what 2 people used to accomplish. This is the part these folks forget: w/more money comes more responsibility. Also, the positions just opened up for more experienced folks who would have not taken the job otherwise because of the money, so you are less attractive at that rate now. But who cares, they are short sighted: show me the money! (but not the consequences please…)