In early returns Tuesday night, voters are approving SeaTac’s Prop. 1 to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour.
An early vote count showed the measure carrying 54 percent of the vote.
The initiative would raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 for certain hotels, rental car, shuttle, and other airport related businesses.
Critics have argued many businesses won’t be able to afford what amounts to a 63 percent wage increase and will either cut jobs or be forced to close altogether. Backers argue it’s a fair measure that helps low-income workers make a living wage.
Amidst a national labor movement to increase the minimum wage nationwide, the SeaTac measure is viewed as an important first step in planting seeds for an eventual nationwide push.
Heather Weiner, with the Good Jobs Initiative, says raising the minimum wage to $15 would ensure pay rates at Sea-Tac Airport match others for similar positions on the West Coast.
“There are other airports like San Jose, LA, San Francisco, Oakland, Long Beach, that have already been setting workplace standards for workers that include paid sick leave. Those airports sometimes even include health care benefits, and San Francisco has a wage standard that is above $15, I believe it’s $15.37 an hour,” says Weiner.
But the wage increase would break some businesses, according to the owner of a Quiznos in Sea-Tac Airport’s B Concourse.
“The $15 an hour minimum wage would … it would put us out of business. It would absolutely put us out of business,” says Brett Habernicht.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.