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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 1, 2013 at 6:29 AM

Raise the minimum wage for immigrants in airport workforce

Corrected version

The American dream can’t be reached without basic living costs

I am an advocate for Asian American communities and a son of an immigrant small-business owner. I disagree with Sharon Pian Chan’s commentary on SeaTac’s Proposition 1 [How a $15 minimum wage would devastate immigrant businesses,” Online, Oct. 30].

While appearing to champion the cause of immigrant small-business owners, Chan conflates the issues and ignores the fact that SeaTac’s initiative exempts some of them from the $15-an-hour wage rate. Further, grandiose claims that “a higher minimum wage would sound a death knell” lack empirical evidence. What we do know is that small businesses in other airport cities (L.A., San Francisco, Oakland) that have raised the minimum wage have remained strong and vibrant.

Minimum-wage workers do indeed “dream of something bigger” — but how can they possibly achieve those dreams when their realities are a never-ending struggle for basic survival? Proposition 1 gives workers a fair shot at prosperity.

Here are the facts: Raising the minimum wage in SeaTac will benefit an airport workforce that is disproportionately immigrant. It would create opportunities for workers so their children have better access to education, their families can get on the road to financial stability, they can have better health outcomes and they can afford the training and education needed for career advancement.

That is the American dream.

Benjamin Sung Henry, president of Asian Pacific Islander Americans for Civic Empowerment, Beacon Hill

Information in this letter, originally published at 6:49 a.m. Nov. 1, 2013, was corrected at 2:22 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2013. Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Benjamin Sung Henry is an advocate for Pacific Islander communities. He is an advocate for Asian American communities.

Comments | More in minimum wage | Topics: Minimum Wage

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