SeaTac $15 Minimum Wage Survives Recount

Dec. 09--The ballot measure to create a $15 minimum wage for airport-related workers in SeaTac has survived a recount.

King County elections official recounted ballots by hand Monday, at the request of opponents of SeaTac Proposition 1, and announced it had identified "no surprises" that would change the initial tally of the Nov. 5 vote. The King County Canvassing Board is expected to finalize the results Tuesday.

"Close only counts in horseshoes," said Mike West, co-chair of Common Sense SeaTac, a business-backed political committee opposed to Proposition 1. "Even though the citizens of SeaTac are narrowly divided on the wisdom of this idea, the businesses now have to prepare for living with this measure."

The original count, certified Nov. 26, had Proposition 1 ahead by 77 votes out of 6,003.

The initiative raises the city's hourly-wage floor for hospitality and transportation workers to $15 from the statewide standard of $9.32 on Jan. 1 and assures annual inflation adjustments.

But both sides remain in limbo because the measure faces a court challenge by Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association. A hearing is scheduled for Friday before King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas.

Anti-Proposition 1 group Common Sense SeaTac paid for Monday's hand recount, at an estimated cost of $6,000 to $7,000.

Both sides spent about $1.8?million combined in an election campaign that's believed to be the most expensive ever on a per-voter basis statewide.

In addition to a $15 minimum wage, Proposition 1 requires affected employers to provide paid sick leave, promote part-time workers to full-time before hiring additional part-timers, and retain employees for at least 90 days after an ownership change. Those requirements can be waived in a union contract.

Proponents of the measure say it will ease poverty and stimulate consumer spending, boosting the economy. Opponents say it will force businesses to raise prices and cut staff, hurting the economy.

The Port of Seattle, which owns and operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, stayed quiet on the measure during the campaign. But it now says the city lacks jurisdiction over the airport, and it has sided with Alaska Airlines in seeking a court ruling that Proposition 1 cannot be enforced there.

The measure, if left to stand, would "undermine not just the port's exclusive jurisdiction to regulate businesses operating at the airport, but all facets of airport operation, at every airport in the state," says the Port's brief, filed Thursday.

Pro-Proposition 1 group SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs counters that not all municipal regulation related to the airport is prohibited under state law.

The group argues that the city may impose regulations on businesses at the airport as long as it doesn't charge new license fees or occupation taxes, interfere with the Port's police operations, or otherwise tell the Port how to run the airport.

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com. On Twitter: @amyemartinez

Copyright 2013 - The Seattle Times

Loading