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SeaTac Minimum Wage Initiative Passing by Just 43 Votes

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Elaine Thompson
/
Associated Press
In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, wheelchair attendants Erick Conley, left, and Sesilia Vaitele assist a pair of passengers heading to an overseas flight at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in SeaTac, Wash.

The voter initiative to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour for airport and hotel workers in SeaTac is still undecided.

The initiative was passing by just 43 votes on Tuesday afternoon. And activists say they don’t expect a clear outcome before Thanksgiving due to hundreds of contested ballots in a relatively small electorate. 

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” said Heather Weiner, spokeswoman for the Yes for SeaTac campaign, which declared a premature victory on election night when the initiative was passing by an 8-point margin.

Weiner said the campaign is still getting used to the mail-in ballot system, and the waiting.

“We’re feeling very patient as the ballots come in, and we expect it will be like this for the next couple of days," she said. 'Every day at 4:30, we set out clocks and check the count.”

With the margin so narrow, both sides are contesting ballots that appear to have been improperly signed. And those votes could swing the measure one way or another.

Last week, several parties filed a lawsuit in federal court in response to the initiative. The suit filed by Alaska Air, the Washington Restaurant Association, and airport concessionaire Filo Foods claims paying $15 an hour with sick leave for hotel and airport workers would place an unreasonable burden on Seatac businesses and City Hall. 

Supporters say similar measures exist in other communities including Los Angeles and San Jose, California.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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