Living Wage Initiative: Will it cost jobs in the city of SeaTac?

by: Essex Porter Updated:

SEATAC, Wash. —

Canvassers in SeaTac are already collecting signatures on petitions for an initiative requiring a living wage and paid sick time for workers in the hospitality and transportation industries.

"Jobs that people could have living wages, actually get some medical coverage," saidChris Smith, an aircraft fueler who makes $10 an hour.

"There are a lot of things that I cannot take care of with the family," Smith said, "and that is including bills, making sure the rent is paid on time."

The initiative would require a minimum wage of $15 an hour, about $30,000 a year for the workers whom it covers. Part-time employees would be able to earn paid sick leave.

But businesses point out that if the initiative passes, the minimum wage in SeaTac would go up 60 percent.

"This initiative has a lot of unintended consequences, unfortunately," said Scott Ostrander, general manager at the Cedarbrook Lodge.

Ostrander believes the initiative will cost jobs if it passes. "I know that there's some neighboring hotels that say if such an initiative went through, they would absolutely be forced to close their restaurant."

The initiative will need roughly 1,600 signatures to qualify for the November ballot.