Ongoing Sagas

Whatever Happened to SeaTac's $15 Minimum Wage?

Good question, but it’s tough to answer because the story is still evolving.

By Allison Williams May 24, 2016 Published in the June 2016 issue of Seattle Met

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Sea-Tac, SeaTac.

Image via Flickr

Okay, start at the beginning.

In November 2013, voters in the city of SeaTac approved a new minimum wage that, unlike Seattle’s phased-in increase, would jump directly to $15 an hour on January 1, 2014.

Nice! So everyone got a big bump right away.

Nope. Almost as soon as the raise was passed, Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association filed suit, claiming that Sea-Tac the airport—which is run by the Port of Seattle—doesn’t have to do what SeaTac the city says. And it won, just days before the change was supposed to take effect.

So did anyone get a raise?

Yes, fewer than 2,000 people who work service jobs outside of the airport grounds. But! On behalf of the 4,700 people who work at Sea-Tac, the group behind the original proposal appealed the ruling to the state supreme court and won in August 2015.

That sounds positive…but you said the story is still evolving?

Alaska and a handful of other employers tried to block the raise again last December in superior court but lost. And while most Sea-Tac workers are finally banking $15 an hour, a group of employees are now suing to recoup the wages they believe they lost during the two-year legal battle.

Which probaby isn’t—wait for it—peanuts.


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