The minimum wage is a hot topic these days, especially in light of all of the fast food workers’ strikes that are occurring across the nation. As we recently discussed, voters in the city of SeaTac can vote in November to increase the minimum wage of workers in and around the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. However, the ballot initiative faced legal challenges from employers, such as Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association, who opposed the measure. Unfortunately for the challengers, the Seattle Times has reported that the initiative has cleared several legal hurdles after a ruling from an appeals court in Washington, and it appears that the measure will appear on the ballot.
The ballot initiative, also called SeaTac Prop. 1 or the Good Jobs Initiative, would increase the minimum wage for certain employees in the city of SeaTac to $15 an hour, almost $6 an hour more than Washington’s state minimum wage of $9.19 an hour. In addition, if passed by the voters in November, the Good Jobs Initiative would provide other legal protections and rights to employees in and around the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, such as paid sick and safe leave and the right of employees to keep any tips received for the services they provided.
One of the main legal challenges that the Good Jobs Initiative faced was whether it could appear on the ballot in November. Opponents of the measure had filed a lawsuit in a Washington state court claiming that the initiative had failed to receive the necessary number of signatures to appear on the ballot. In late August, a King County Superior Court judge had ruled that 61 of the signatures on the ballot were invalid because those people had signed more than one petition. However, a panel of three judges on the Washington Court of Appeals overturned the Superior Court judge’s decision. By reversing the lower court’s ruling, the decision of the Court of Appeals should mean that the Good Jobs Initiative can appear on SeaTac’s November Ballot, reports the Seattle Weekly News.
In addition, voters whose signatures were struck from the ballot have filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Washington. According to an article from the Seattle Times, the voters claim that their state and federal constitutional rights have been violated because their signatures were improperly struck from the petitions. However, this lawsuit might be dismissed based on the ruling from the Court of Appeals.
With the $15 an hour minimum-wage increase likely to be put before the SeaTac voters this November, there may be changes in other parts of Washington. Fast food workers across the country, including in Washington, are campaigning to have their minimum wage raised to $15 an hour. If SeaTac’s Good Jobs Initiative passes, it is possible that other cities in Washington, such as the surrounding cities of Seattle and Tacoma, will follow suit and enact their own higher minimum wage laws.
If you would like to know more about minimum wage laws in Washington, feel free to contact an employment lawyer.