Now that SeaTac has and Seattle will likely have $15 minimum wages, we ought to look at what that means for the Port. Since the lawsuit is still underway in SeaTac, maybe there won’t be a gaping hole. But for now, it looks likely that jobs at SeaTac Airport and Port of Seattle facilities in Seattle won’t be covered by the minimum wage laws.
Presuming that the previous ruling gets upheld, I see a couple ways to protect the quality of those jobs. First the state could change the law to make it so that state sponsored port authorities have to apply all local minimum wage laws. I’m not a lawyer, and I haven’t read the lower court verdict, but I assume this could be done legislatively. That would be a bit of a stretch if the state Senate is still controlled by Republicans, but if it requires a constitutional amendment that’ll pretty much be off the table. So that means the Port, I guess. Elections are on odd numbered years, but pressure can be put on the members now (click on the individual pictures to email them).
Of course, the market will take care of some of this. Alaska Airlines have already raised their wages (not to $15) in response to the initiative in SeaTac.
Well, as prospective employees flocked to apply for $15-an-hour jobs, Alaska Airlines raised wages for its contract employees inside the airport to $12 an hour. Clearly, in order to attract and retain the best workers in the area, Alaska Airlines had to sweeten the pot, even saying the new wages “more accurately reflect the local market.” Some of the raises were as high as 28%, showing how a rising wage tide can lift all boats, rather than the right-wing idea that jobs can only be created when wages are depressed.
Still and all, if the two most important cities for the Port Of Seattle raise their minimum wage. The port ought to follow suit, at least in those cities, and preferably throughout their jurisdiction.