This November, voters in the city of SeaTac could pass the SeaTac Good Jobs Initiative (“GJI”), which would establish the highest minimum wage in the country, according to an article from Seattle-based KOMO News Network. The SeaTac ballot initiative would establish a minimum wage of $15 per hour for certain employees at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. However, Alaska Airlines and other groups have filed legal challenges to this initiative, hoping to keep it off the ballot.
What Is the SeaTac Good Jobs Initiative?
The initiative, which is backed by the SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs, is intended to benefit more than 6,000 low-wage employees who work in the city of SeaTac. Specifically, the GJI would apply to hospitality workers such as hotel, restaurant, and retail employees, and transportation workers such as baggage handlers and employees who refuel or clean the aircraft, work in rental car lots, or provide security or passenger services. The initiative, if passed, would:
-Establish a minimum wage of $15 per hour for hospitality and transportation workers
-Entitle workers to one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 40 hours worked
-Require employers to offer additional hours to part-time staff before hiring a new employee
-Give priority for new employers’ job openings to qualified SeaTac workers who lost their jobs because of layoffs or closures
-Entitle workers to any service charges or tips that come from the work that they performed
The GJI would not apply to small businesses, such as retailers with 9 or fewer employees, hotels with 29 or fewer employees, and freestanding restaurants and retail stores that are not attached to a hotel.
Will the Initiative Become Law?
There are several steps that must happen before the GJI could become a law. The initiative cleared the first hurdle when supporters managed to collect enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Second, the SeaTac city council will hear testimony and vote on whether it will put the initiative on the ballot. Finally, if the GJI makes it onto the November ballot, the voters will decide whether the initiative becomes a law.
The GJI also faces legal challenges from Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association, and other companies. These companies lost their first case when a King County judge rejected their attempt to keep the GJI off of SeaTac’s November ballot. The companies also have challenged whether the GJI’s supporters collected enough legal signatures.
If the GJI clears all of the hurdles and becomes a law in SeaTac, that could affect other cities in Washington. As noted by The Stranger, SeaTac is the first city to attempt to establish a minimum wage above Washington’s state minimum wage. Some people think that if the GJI becomes law, then other cities such as Seattle will attempt to raise their minimum wage as well.