SeaTac Minimum Wage Fight In Hands Of Supreme Court

Jun 26, 2014

Voters in SeaTac narrowly approved a $15 an hour minimum wage. Now, the state Supreme Court will decide whether that law should stand. And, if so, whether it should apply to workers at SeaTac Airport. Currently it does not. The justices heard oral arguments Thursday in a case that pits a city against a port and workers against businesses.

Before the courtroom battle even began, the union-backed “Yes for SeaTac” campaign was rallying on the steps of the Capitol. There was a little Bob Marley, some semi-coordinated chanting and speeches. 

“We’ve waited and prayed for this day for six months,” Reverend Jan Bolerjack said.

If this was the rally to win hearts, inside the Washington Supreme Court was the battle to win legal minds.

Lawyers for the $15 an hour law and the city of SeaTac faced-off against lawyers for the Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and airport food vendors.

Attorney Dmitri Iglitzin represents the Committee for Good Jobs SeaTac. He argued a lower court judge was wrong when she ruled the $15 an hour initiative doesn’t apply to airport workers.

“There is no evidence introduced by the Port or Alaska Airlines that this particular SeaTac ordinance in fact interferes with the operation of the airport,” Iglitzin said.

But that’s not the test, argued attorney Tim Leyh for the Port of Seattle.

“The legislature drafted a bright line rule here. If it’s within the airport boundaries, it’s the exclusive jurisdiction of the airport,” Leyh said.

The attorney for Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association went even further. He argued the $15 an hour ordinance runs afoul of federal law and should be thrown out in its entirety.

Coyright 2014 Northwest News Network