August 25, 2015
By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Washington’s state Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on August 20 that the $15-an-hour minimum wage the city of SeaTac voted in 2013 also covers hospitality and travel workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport there. The court rejected claims by Alaska Airlines and employers’ trade groups that because the airport is run by the Port of Seattle, the city didn’t have jurisdiction to enforce the $15 minimum.
The decision means that about 4,700 airport workers will get a raise to $15.24 ($15 adjusted for inflation), joining the about 1,500 workers in SeaTac hotels and restaurants who started getting $15 in January 2014. Organizer Jonathan Rosenblum says the 2013 initiative, which passed by only 77 votes, wouldn’t have won without the relationships built up after the Teamsters defended Muslim immigrants who wanted the right to take short prayer breaks while working at the airport’s Hertz rental-car outlet in 2011. Read more