by: Essex Porter Updated:SEA-TAC, Wash. —
Sea-Tac Airport has been fighting the $15 an hour minimum wage imposed by voters, but Tuesday is poised to give thousands of workers a raise.
Port commissioners plan to vote on the plan next week. Port Co-President Stephanie Bowman said the Port, “has a moral obligation” to invest in its workers, especially those who play a role in keeping the public safe.
Instead of a rally, supporters of a $15 an hour minimum wage took what they called a “poverty tour” of the airport.
“The people who are right there checking, they make $10 an hour,” said tour leader Sarah Saheb. “And that is a shame.”
Instead of $15, port commissioners are proposing a minimum wage of $11.22 beginning in January of 2015. It would go to $13 an hour by January 2017.
The current minimum wage is $9.32 an hour.
The increase would cover only the 600 airport operations workers. Commissioners want to improve security, by reducing turnover.
“Today we're taking a critical step with those workers who have safety and security authority here at the airport,” said Port Commission Co-President Courtney Gregoire.
But restaurant and retail workers are excluded for now.
In a statement Alaska Airlines was non-committal, but noted it took the lead by requiring that contract ramp employees be paid $12 an hour beginning in April of this year.
After 20 years at the airport, Alex Hoopes is making $9.50 and it not satisfied with the commission’s proposal.
“It still would not cover the cost of living for homes, for schooling, for everything else. It just would not,” he said.
The commission plans to vote on their proposal next Tuesday.