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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

August 22, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Big money flowing in SeaTac minimum wage fight

A proposal to raise the wages of workers in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has drawn national attention — and big cash is starting to follow.

There are just 11,852 registered voters in the city of SeaTac eligible to vote Nov. 5 on an initiative setting a $15-hour minimum wage for thousands of airport, hotel, car rental and other employees.

Supporters and opponents of the measure already have raised $440,000 combined for the looming battle — about $37 per voter.

Common Sense Sea Tac, a business-funded political-action committee seeking to defeat the union-backed measure, has raised more than $243,000, according to reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

That includes $75,000 from the American Car Rental Association, $50,000 from a PAC representing state hotel owners and $15,000 each from Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association.

Supporters of the wage law, organized as Yes! For SeaTac, have raised more than $197,000. That includes $50,000 from the state council of the Service Employees International Union and $25,000 from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

In addition to a $15 minimum wage for airport-related businesses, the initiative would require employers to provide paid sick leave and offer jobs to part-time workers before hiring new full-time employees. If an affected business is sold, the new owner would be required to retain existing employees for at least 90 days. Those requirements can all be waived if a business agrees to a collective bargaining agreement with a union.

Supporters of the law say airport workers deserve a living wage and argue it will benefit businesses where those workers shop. But opponents argue it will harm businesses and lead to fewer jobs for low-wage workers.

Seattle Times business reporter Amy Martinez had a roundup of the debate among business owners, workers and others over the initiative last month.

Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: minimum wage, SeaTac, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

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