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SeaTac Voters OK $15 Minimum Wage; Recount Requested

Elaine Thompson
Voters in SeaTac, Wash., have narrowly approved a measure raising the minimum wage at its international airport, officials say. But the initiative faces several challenges, including a recount.

Officials in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac, Wash., say the town's voters have approved a $15 minimum wage for workers in and around its international airport, by a margin of just 77 votes, according to local government data.

Placed on the ballot by a citizen's initiative, Proposition 1 would raise Washington's minimum wage of $9.19 -- already the highest in the nation. The measure still faces several challenges, including calls for a hand recount. If it stands, it would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

From Seattle, NPR's Martin Kaste reports for our Newscast desk:

"The election was three weeks ago, but the vote was so close that it's taken this long to call a winner. Opponents say they'll pay for a recount. Alaska Airlines is the airport's primary carrier; spokesman Paul McElroy says the company is concerned about wage inequality, but he says it has to stay competitive.<br><br> "'The number one factor that air travelers look at when buying a ticket is low airfares,' McElroy says. 'And as our costs go up, that does affect our ability to offer the best value and low-cost airfare to our customers.'"<br><br> "Alaska Airlines and some other affected businesses are suing to block the wage, arguing that it conflicts with state and federal laws."
The wage referendum was put up for a vote without the support of SeaTac's city council.

"An estimated 6,300 workers at 72 airport-related businesses in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport would be affected," the council says. It adds that an analysis of the possible effects has not yet been performed.

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