On Nov. 5, the voters of SeaTac, a small suburban community near Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., voted to provide workers for the town's larger airport-related businesses a minimum wage of $15 per hour, 63% higher than the state's current minimum wage of $9.19. (Although the measure passed, there may be a recount.) Here are seven ways the new measure would change the lives of the workers detailed in the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal:
1. Allow employees to live closer to where they work and cut down on commute times. “I wouldn’t have to take a two-hour commute,” said Eric Frank, a baggage handler who lives an hour away. With the pay increase, workers would be able to afford housing closer to the job.
2. Give employees with families more time with their loved ones. The raise would allow some workers, like Chris Smith, to take care of their families on one salary and not have to work two jobs, freeing up their schedules so they can spend more time with family.
3. Allow some employees who don't get much time off to actually have weekends. “My weekend is like a sale at the Bon Marché—one day only,” Smith said.
4. Decrease working families' reliance on community food banks to provide for their families. The Rev. Jan Bolerjack, pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church, said she regularly sees airport workers in uniform using her church's food banks. “They get off of work and then have to come wait in the rain or cold or worse…just so they can put food on the table,” she said.
5. Give part-time workers the opportunity to get more hours. The law requires businesses to offer more hours to part-time workers before bringing in new part-time workers when more shifts become available.
6. Allow sick workers to stay home without fear of losing their jobs. The law requires the businesses to provide up to 6.5 days a year of paid sick leave to employees who work full-time.
7. Protect airport travelers from illnesses by allowing sick workers to stay home.
Profitable companies such as Alaska Airlines are supporting a lawsuit to overturn the law and the will of the people and are seeking a recount on the measure, which passed by 77 votes.