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SeaTac Voters OK $15 Minimum Wage, Opponents Request Recount

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, skycap Biniyam Yehuala hefts a traveler's bag at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.

Voters in the city of SeaTac have approved a $15 minimum wage, but opponents have already requested a recount. 

Proposition 1 passed by a slim margin of 77 votes out of 6,003 votes cast. But even before the ballots were certified Tuesday, the group Common Sense SeaTac called for a recount in the hotly-contested initiative. The group is supported by Alaska Airlines, rental car companies and airport baggage-handling businesses.

The two sides poured money into the campaign. The sponsors of the initiative, led by the Service Employees International Union, raised more than $1.4 million during the campaign in cash and in-kind contributions. The opponents raised $665,000. Common Sense SeaTac said if expenses match the money raised, the supporters of the initiative will have spent about $460 per vote earned. Opponents will have spent about $225 per vote earned.

Common Sense SeaTac said many of the workers who would benefit from the higher minimum wage don’t live in SeaTac, and the city would have to pay to enforce the law.

The group supporting the measure has said many transportation and hospitality workers in SeaTac and at the airport earn poverty wages, often taking on many extra hours of overtime or a second job to get by. 

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.