Alaska Airlines, Other Businesses Continue Legal Battle Over SeaTac Minimum Wage | KNKX

Alaska Airlines, Other Businesses Continue Legal Battle Over SeaTac Minimum Wage

Dec 15, 2015

Alaska Airlines and other plaintiffs are continuing their long legal battle over SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage law. They’ve asked a King County Superior Court judge to set a trial date so they can present evidence about how the higher minimum wage would interfere with airport operations. 

The Washington Supreme Court ruled in August that SeaTac’s voter-approved $15 minimum wage law applies at the airport. A majority of the justices said there was no indication the higher wage would interfere with the Port of Seattle’s ability to operate the airport.

But Alaska Airlines and the other plaintiffs say they didn’t have a chance to present facts in court about whether that’s indeed true. Cecilia Cordova is an attorney for Filo Foods and BF Foods, which operate a restaurant and two bagel shops at the airport.

"The Supreme Court left open the question of whether the ordinance impermissibly interferes with airport operations and we’re simply asking the court to conduct fact finding on this issue," Cordova said. 

Dmitri Iglitzin is an  attorney for the union-backed group that got the higher minimum wage proposition on the ballot two years ago. He said the Supreme Court's ruling was straightforward and there's no need for a trial. 

"There clearly is no question mark," Iglitzin said. "There is no serious person reading the Supreme Court decision that thinks there’s still any room for doubt."

Charlotte Garden, a law professor at Seattle University, agreed and said she was surprised that the companies are continuing the legal fight. 

"The Proposition 1 plaintiffs are making a procedural argument that they should get another bite of the apple to show the $15 wage will interfere with airport operations and that’s the operative standard announced by the Washington Supreme Court," she said. "But the Washington Supreme Court also stated that the ordinance `does not interfere with the operations of an airport,' so given that clear language, the motion strikes me as an exercise in delay."

In the meantime, Iglitzin says many employers at the airport have accepted the decision and are paying workers $15.24 an hour, the inflation-adjusted wage.