“We’ve waited six months for this,” Reverend Jan Bolerjack said into the gathered TV cameras on the steps of the capitol building in Olympia. “Sea-Tac Airport workers need the $15 they fought for. There is no reason they should be working full time and still have to come to my church and use our food bank. Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle need to do the right thing.”
Last November, airport workers pushed for and won a $15 minimum wage at Sea-Tac Airport. Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle sued blocking over $15 MILLION in wages for 4700 families. On June 26th the Washington State Supreme Court was hearing final arguments in the $15 for SeaTac case —and we were out in force to show our support for airport workers getting the wages they deserve.
“This isn’t just about Sea-Tac Airport,” said Tina Cummins a PDX worker who came up for the hearing. “We in PDX support you. We all deserve living wages and that’s why I came here today.”
SeaTac Mayor Mia Gregerson had a few words to say in support of $15.
“It is our job to do what’s best for workers,” she said. “This is what the workers fought for and the people of SeaTac approved. $15 should be happening.”
We held signs with pictures of what we would have bought with the roughly $5000 that each airport worker has not received due to Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle’s interference. We held blown up photos that showed: diapers, groceries, new shoes, a decent home, repairing a car, paying bills. There is no reason for us to be cutting back or skipping out of getting these essential goods.
We pushed for $15. We won $15, and the people of SeaTac had our back.
After the rally on the steps of the capitol we lined up and filed into the court room where the lawyers for the airport workers and City of SeaTac made good arguments about why $15 should be fully implemented. They talked about the fact that the airport resides in SeaTac. They talked about former court cases where similar situations were ruled in our favor — a lot of good quality legal thrusts and parries.
On the other side, the lawyer for Alaska Airlines complained to the judges that Proposition 1 contained “too much” for workers. He noted that beyond a $15 minimum wage, the law calls for paid sick leave, worker job protections when contractors change, full-time hours for those who need them, and preventing management theft of workers’ tips. All that is “too big a leap,” he complained.
One of the judges, Justice Charles Wiggins, cut him off and said: “Given the gap between executive compensation and worker compensation, I find it hard to think that this would be too much, too big a leap.”
After the hearing we lined up on the steps of the Temple of Justice where news media interviewed workers, community supporters and even one of the lawyers for the workers and tried to test the temperature of how the hearing went.
Alex Hoopes, who works for AirServ, answered their questions.
“This is what happens when workers get together,” he said. “This is just the beginning and other workers should join us and stand up for living wages.”
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