With signs reading “We’ve been robbed”, four airport workers and community supporters — including City Councilmember Kshama Sawant — arrested over Alaska Air’s ongoing efforts to block the $15/hour minimum wage.
One hundred airport workers and community supporters with Working Washington protested Alaska Airlines’ efforts to rob SeaTac of its $15 minimum wage today, culminating in the rush-hour arrest of four people for engaging in peaceful civil disobedience outside outside Alaska Airlines corporate headquarters.
The four who engaged in civil disobedience showed that workers and members of the SeaTac community are committed to do whatever it takes to stand up to ongoing efforts by highly profitable Alaska Airlines to rob SeaTac workers and their communities of the benefits of the landmark $15/hour minimum wage they won in last year’s election:
- Socrates Bravo, Sea-Tac Airport worker
- Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councilmember
- Rev. John Helmiere, Valley & Mountain Church
- Kadra Osman, Renton, former Sea-Tac Airport worker
Today’s events come after a year of mounting community frustration with Alaska Airlines, which tried to keep $15 off the ballot in the first place, campaigned unsuccessfully to vote it down, and then sued in state court to block it from taking effect for thousands of airport workers, arguing that SeaTac doesn’t have the power to set a minimum wage. Their latest effort: just last week, their big national airline lobby group filed a Federal lawsuit too, claiming this time the Port of Seattle doesn’t have the power to set a minimum wages, either.
In November 2013, SeaTac galvanized a national movement for higher pay with their vote to pass Proposition 1, which guaranteed a $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, and other labor standards for travel & tourism industry workers in and around our airport. Today, eleven months after the $15 minimum wage was supposed to take effect, many workers are left making little more than the statewide minimum wage of $9.32 an hour — a loss of more than $5/hour for each hour worked since January 1st.
After a year of Alaska’s lawsuits, delays, and political shenanigans, workers and community members have had enough — they’re calling on Alaska to drop the excuses, stop robbing the people who serve their passengers, and make sure airport workers finally get the $15 they won last November.
Full application of SeaTac Proposition 1 was estimated to inject $54 million into the local economy— a much needed boost in many of South King County communities where airport workers live.