A small suburban Washington city of 27,000 has recently taken center stage in the national debate over living wages. Voters in the City of SeaTac will soon decide on Proposition 1, a ballot initiative to establish perhaps the most draconian employment standards in the nation, complete with a $15 minimum wage requirement.
Labor leaders are thrilled, and it’s not hard to see why: Labor support of Prop 1 appears to be part of a growing trend to promote union organizing through local ballot initiatives.
Though small in terms of geography and population, the City of SeaTac is economically significant because it hosts Sea-Tac International Airport and surrounding travel and hospitality businesses.
Prop 1’s roots go back to 2005, when Alaska Airlines replaced unionized baggage handlers with non-union contractors. Six years later, Unite Here Local 8, the hospitality workers union, spent historic amounts of money to successfully finance three city council elections.