Washington Supreme Court To Hear SeaTac Airport Minimum Wage Fight

Jun 25, 2014

Should SeaTac’s voter-approved $15 an hour minimum wage apply to airport workers? Washington’s Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on that question Thursday. The case pits airport vendors, Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle against supporters of the higher wage.

Washington’s Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether SeaTac’s voter-approved $15 an hour minimum wage should apply to airport workers.
Credit Cacophany / Wikimedia

On the surface, the law seems pretty clear. It says an airport is ‘under the exclusive jurisdiction and control’ of the municipality that operates it. In this case, Sea-Tac airport is in the city of SeaTac, but it’s operated by the Port of Seattle. A lower court judge previously ruled that because of this the $15 an hour minimum wage does not apply to airport workers.

The City of SeaTac and the backers of the initiative are challenging this. They argue the law on airport jurisdiction is more nuanced. And they say the plaintiffs in the case have not provided ‘specific evidence’ that the higher wage would interfere with airport operations.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday. Supporters of the higher minimum wage say they plan to show up in force at the Supreme Court.

They have not been satisfied by the Port’s plans to raise wages, announced this week.

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