$15 minimum wage wins in Seattle suburb by 77 votes, possible recount looming

A ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour in SeaTac, Wash., has won — three weeks after Election Day. King County election officials certified the 77 vote margin of victory Tuesday.

The Proposition also grants paid sick leave to airport and hospitality workers in SeaTac, the small city surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

But not long after the official victory, Common Sense SeaTac, the business-backed political action committee that opposed the initiative, announced they are requesting a recount by hand. The losing side has to pay 25 cents per ballot for a recount by hand, which comes to about $1,500.

Even small business owners, which would be exempt from having to paying $15 an hour, have objected to the wage hike, claiming that it would divert employees away from their businesses toward airport jobs.

At $9.19 an hour, Washington state already has the highest minimum wage in the country, and that will increase statewide to $9.32 an hour in January.
The labor-backed Yes! on SeaTac campaign declared victory on Nov. 5 with a 261-vote lead, but their margin of victory slimmed to as few as 19 votes as the counting of ballots, all of which were mailed in, continued.

Just a few days after the election, Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association filed suit in King County Superior Court to invalidate the proposition. Labor groups are now calling for that suit to be withdrawn, and they’re bringing their fight for a living wage to Seattle.

A living wage is good for the whole economy, local SEIU President David Rolf told the PBS NewsHour. And it would improve everyone’s travel experience, said Simon Fraser University economist Peter Hall.

For more on what the bare-minimum living wage — the amount it takes to get by without assistance — is in your area, read about the Self-Sufficiency Standard on the Business Desk.

Making Sense covered the debate between labor and business over Proposition 1 extensively on the NewsHour (watch the segment above) and on the Business Desk. Find links to all of our SeaTac stories here.

H/T Simone Pathe