Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

SeaTac Minimum Wage Initiative to Appear on November Ballot

Elaine Thompson
Associated Press

After a legal tug-of-war, supporters of a $15 per hour minimum wage for some workers in SeaTac have gotten their initiative on the November ballot.

Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and an airport restaurant owner had challenged the validity of some of the petition signatures, but a panel of appeals judges ruled that those signatures should be counted and the measure will head to the voters.

Unions, including the Service Employees International Union and the Teamsters, have backed the effort.

“So many voters in SeaTac are looking forward to having better paying jobs and a good boost to the local economy and paid sick leave,” said Heather Weiner with the Committee for Good Jobs. “And we’re just very excited this is going to be on the ballot, and voters will have a chance to vote in November."

The legal wrangling went down to the wire on Friday, the deadline for King County Elections to put the issue on the ballot. Voters in the city of SeaTac, with a population of 28,000, can expect a noisy and expensive campaign.

The Seattle Times has reported that groups on either side of the initiative have already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. The higher minimum wage would apply to airport ground crew, including baggage handlers and cabin cleaners as well as people who work for rental car companies and hotels. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.