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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

December 3, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Seattle City Councilmember Sawant charged with disorderly conduct

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant (Credit: Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant (Credit: Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and three other people arrested while taking part in a protest last month outside Alaska Airlines headquarters in SeaTac were charged Wednesday with disorderly conduct, SeaTac city attorney Mary Mirante Bartolo said.

The protesters arrested Nov. 19 were calling for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport workers to be paid at least $15 an hour.

They were taken into custody after they remained standing in the middle of International Boulevard as police officers announced that anyone not on the sidewalk would be arrested.

The four protesters — Sawant, a cargo handler, a former airport worker and a church pastor — were then booked into a Des Moines jail and were released a few hours later.

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, Mirante Bartolo said.

SeaTac city prosecutors made the decision to charge in SeaTac Municipal Court the protesters after reviewing police documents, she said.

The protesters, including Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party, will enter pleas at their arraignments, which will likely happen in a couple of weeks, Mirante Bartolo said.

The protest involved about 100 airport workers and their supporters and was organized by Working Washington, an organization pushing for higher minimum wages.

SeaTac voters last year approved a law raising the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour, and the law took effect earlier this year.

But a judge ruled the law doesn’t apply to airport workers because the airport is operated by the Port of Seattle. Alaska Airlines was among opponents who sued to block the law.

The Port’s commissioners voted in July to raise the minimum wage of some airport workers but a trade organization for the major airlines has sued to block that move.

“Why do workers face charges when they peacefully campaign for their rights, while corporate criminals go free? Our justice system is broken. As long as their movement continues, I will stand with workers in Sea-Tac,” Sawant said in a statement Wednesday.

View Sawant’s criminal complaint here.

Comments | Topics: minimum wage, SeaTac, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant

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