The city of SeaTac has been moving back and forth on Proposition 1, a proposal that would raise the minimum wage of hospitality and transportation workers related to the airport to $15 per hour.
Businesses that may see a raise include hotels, car rental companies and aviation workers such as plane refuelers.
Initiated by a group called the SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs, the initiative was unanimously passed by a petition signed by over 2,500 people in the SeaTac area. In addition to a pay raise, workers would be entitled to sick leave and job security when companies change their contractors.
A recount was called, and as King County election officials completed the recount, the proposition was found to have succeeded by a margin of 77 votes, and was set to go into effect on Jan. 1.
Many workers make minimum wage, and look at the policies of other airports, such as San Francisco, when the issue is brought up.
A ramp worker in San Francisco or Los Angeles could be loading a plane making $15 an hour, and once the plane lands in SeaTac, the ramp worker doing the same job is making only minimum wage with no additional benefits.
Menzies Aviation employs ramp workers nationwide, and Menzies employees Kyle Flesner and Trevor Montgomery hope for the increase but have mixed feelings.
“I think if there’s an increase, it should be specific to labor-intensive jobs. If this passes, it will also include the fast food and valet jobs outside of the airport,” Flesner said.
Montgomery adds to Flesner’s statement.
“I don’t think the guys that flip burgers should get the same benefits as the guys throwing 3,000 pounds of cargo at 30 to 50 pounds apiece as quickly as possible,” Montgomery said. “I just got back from basic training, got this job, a house and a vehicle. I could use the raise.”
Alaska Airlines, the American Restaurant Association and a few other food companies have filed a legal challenge to question whether the City of SeaTac has the jurisdiction to raise minimum wages. Whether or not SeaTac airport has the ability to control its own operations as its own entity or whether that responsibility falls under the city itself is a large area of jurisdictional dispute.
Another argument the airline has mentioned via their spokesperson against the proposition is that a union contract imposed through legislation will not pass under federal review. Federal wage and labor laws are the items that will be tackled when deciding the outcome of this appeal.
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