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SeaTac minimum wage fight far from over

Under state law, there are no automatic recounts in local ballot initiatives, and even if there were, the vote spread in this race would fall outside the automatic triggers. (AP Photo/File)

An opposition group has announced it is requesting a recount of SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage initiative.

Common Sense SeaTac announced Tuesday it will request a recount from King County. Election rules say a group may request a recount if costs are covered.

The initiative won by 77 votes in election results certified Tuesday afternoon. That was out of 6,003 votes counted.

“When an election is this close, everyone should be assured the outcome is as certain as possible,” Common Sense SeaTac co-chairman Scott Ostrander said in a statement.

The recount request was expected. The SeaTac measure drew some $1.8 million in campaign spending in the small city, with national labor groups supporting the initiative and national business groups opposing it.

If the minimum wage survives a recount, it still faces a legal challenge.

“There are questions about whether the initiative violates the single-subject requirement of state law,” said Gary Smith, with Common Sense SeaTac. “There are questions about whether the initiative gives the City of SeaTac powers over the Port of Seattle that are not legal.”

Many businesses in SeaTac say they can’t afford the $15 an hour minimum wage, and it will force them out of business or force them to cut employees.

Businesses inside the airport say it will put them at a competitive disadvantage because they won’t be able to raise their prices to help offset the costs of the higher wages. The airport has used a street-pricing model for about ten years. It requires businesses inside the airport to charge the same prices that you would find outside the airport. It’s been a way to keep those businesses from gouging customers.

Some airport businesses say they plan to ask for ways around the street-pricing model to help them handle the increased labor costs.

The Associated Press has contributed to this report.

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