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$15 an hour? Port of Seattle set to phase in wage hikes at Sea-Tac

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Members of the $15 Now activist group stormed out of a meeting Tuesday when it became apparent that Port of Seattle commissioners would not raise the minimum wage immediately at Sea-Tac International Airport. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SEA-TAC INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT — Six months ago, SeaTac voters approved a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for the workers at the airport and airport-related businesses.

Proposition 1, which passed last November, was created specifically to give airport workers like baggage handlers a better wage.

The Port of Seattle, however, manages the airport, and the Port hasn’t come to a decision on what to do until now.

The commission unveiled a plan Tuesday to phase in an increase in the minimum wage for more than 4,000 workers. The wages would go up to $11.22 an hour next January — and then $13 an hour in January 2017. The total package would be $15 an hour, including benefits and paid time off.

“We absolutely looked at Proposition 1,” said Courtney Gregoire, Port president, “but we realized as the port authority, we’re accountable to all of the people in King County.”

Members of the $15 Now activist group stormed out of  the meeting when it became apparent that commissioners would not raise the minimum wage immediately.

Alex Hoopes, a baggage handler for 25 years, said it’s sad that few of the people working at the airport can afford to fly out of it, and phasing in an increase won’t help enough.

“There is a disrespect for the workers at the airport and that’s not right,” said Hoopes. “We want to work here and enjoy working here but we’re not able to buy a ticket to fly anywhere.”

The Port of Seattle will vote on the new plan next Tuesday, but things could get more interesting this Thursday. That’s when the Washington Supreme Court will hear arguments on a lawsuit on whether airport workers should get $15 an hour now.

 

 

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