SEATAC, Wash. — Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, charged with disorderly conduct for blocking a road during a protest over the minimum wage, told a judge Thursday she does not need a lawyer at her trial and will represent herself.
In December, police arrested Sawant and several other minimum wage supporters for blocking a road during a protest outside Alaska Airlines headquarters.
“This is not about disorderly conduct, it’s about minimum wage,” Sawant told the judge.
Seatac voters approved a $15 minimum wage, but a judge ruled the minimum wage does not apply to airport workers.
“Alaska Airlines should be on trial, not us,” Sawant said.
Alaska Airlines said most of their vendors already make $12 an hour. That policy was put in place before the minimum wage movement.
The company released this statement on Thursday:
“Alaska Airlines supports fair-wage jobs and voluntarily increased wages last April for more than 1,000 vendor employees at the airport, prior to the Port of Seattle or the City of Seattle taking action.
"In addition to these substantial voluntarily wage increases, Alaska has invested millions of dollars in the SeaTac community focusing on career development, education and community wellness.
"With more than 6,000 employees in the Puget Sound area, Alaska is committed to playing an active role in improving the communities in which our families live and work.”
Minimum wage supporters say they don’t regret getting arrested.
But on Twitter some expressed frustration, saying Sawant is wasting tax dollars on special interests.
When Sawant was asked if it was appropriate for a City Council member to get arrested, she replied, “When workers and faith leaders and community activists are putting their own lives on the line to fight for the rights of workers, it’s appropriate for me as an elected public figure to join them in the struggles.”
Q13 FOX News posed the same question to other City Council members and the Mayor’s Office. No one commented about Sawant’s arrest.
“We need workers to get at least $15 an hour and it’s just the beginning of our struggle," she said.
Sawant, if convicted, could face up to a maximum of 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine.