SeaTac Blow Still Vindicates Minimum Wage Hike

If you have been following the national effort to raise the minimum wage, you will be interested to see this:

King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas issued a bittersweet decision today (pdf) that upholds most of SeaTac Proposition while ruling that the $15 minimum wage initiative does not apply to airport workers. If Judge Darvas’s ruling survives the inevitable appeal, Prop 1’s provisions will apply to about 1,600 workers at large hotels and car lots within the City of SeaTac, but not to the roughly 4,700 people who work for contractors, concessionaires, and car rental companies on airport property.

The Seattle-Tacoma Airport is owned and operated by the Port of Seattle, which has apparently been arguing in recent years that it does not have the legal authority to raise the minimum wage. This judge found differently.

More significantly, the judge dismissed all the other arguments against using a voter initiative to raise the minimum wage in the town of SeaTac, which means that the minimum wage could be raised by initiative in Seattle, or other jurisdictions in Washington state.

The SeaTac minimum wage initiative passed with a 77 vote margin, and creates the highest minimum wage in the country.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at