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SeaTac Proposition 1: Yes! for a living wage

By Jonathan Rosebloom, Working Washington Campaign Director and PSARA member 

The CEO of Alaska Airlines made $5.7 million last year. He’s paying out $325 million in shareholder dividends. SeaTac’s hotels are on pace for record revenues in 2013. A record 33 million passengers at Sea-Tac International Airport spent a record amount of money – $180 million – eating and shopping at the airport last year. What was once a small regional airport is now the 15th busiest in the country with plans to invest millions in expanding the international terminal.

It’s a less upbeat story for the hard-working people making these companies successful: More than 6,000 Sea-Tac workers who handle baggage, fuel and clean planes, assist passengers in wheelchairs, serve hotel customers, clean rental cars, and operate parking facilities are locked into poverty wage jobs. They are paid an average of just $1,472 a month, below the federal poverty threshold and far below a monthly family budget required to make ends meet in King County ($4,136).

This fall, PSARA and our allies have an opportunity to do something about the yawning income gap between greedy multinational corporations and the people who make our airport one of the best in the country.

City of SeaTac Proposition 1 would raise these employees’ wages to a minimum of $15 an hour – close to what these jobs used to pay before airlines and others began contracting out and slashing wages. Proposition 1 also ensures that employees would get paid sick leave and have greater access to full-time work. It would stop the theft of tips and service charges that hotel managements routinely take from servers and other staff. And it would ensure greater job security for contracted workers. Proposition 1 covers the big profitable corporations operating in and around our airport; small businesses inside and outside the airport are specifically exempt but will reap the benefits of customers with more cash in their wallets.

We’re proud that PSARA and dozens of other community organizations, political leaders and unions have endorsed SeaTac Proposition 1.

Proposition 1 is on the ballot this fall in the City of SeaTac – in spite of strenuous (and ultimately unsuccessful) legal appeals by Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association to prevent citizens from being able to vote on it.

PSARA’s support is critical to the success of Proposition 1. Senior citizens constitute about 20% of the electorate. Alaska Airlines, the Restaurant Association, and other major airport corporations are running an aggressive campaign to try to scare SeaTac citizens into voting “No.” PSARA is joining in special phone banks to SeaTac’s senior citizens, to educate them about Proposition 1 and to encourage their “Yes” vote. To find out more about the phone banking and how you can get involved, contact Sera Day at 206-321-2747 or sera@workingwa.org .

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