by Jack Mayne
For the past several days, a proposal by an outside group to raise some minimum salaries almost $6 an hour above the state minimum and impose mandatory paid sick leave for transportation and hospitality workers in have caused some concerns in the city.
As e-mails and talks ratcheted up and, with some certain this was a scheme of the SeaTac City Council majority, the city took the unusual course on Monday and issued a press release that said the “independent group known as the SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs” was proposing the ordinance and was in the midst of getting 1,541 signatures to ensure the measure goes before voters if council did not pass it first.
The 1,541 signatures is equal to 15 percent of the number of people who voted in the 2011 city election, and the required number to ensure the measure goes on the next ballot if the council does not pass it.
“While the city will follow through on the initiative process as required by state law and city code, the initiative was filed by the independent group,” the city news release said (download a PDF of the proposed initiative here).
Some observers had suggested that the 4-to-3 split on the current City Council meant that the majority was pushing the measure as a way to pay for the support of various unions at the 2011 election.
In effect, the news release on Monday discounted that thought (download PDF here).
Pay raise to $15
The proposed ordinance would raise minimum wages from the state’s current $9.19 per hour to $15 an hour for all workers defined to be in the hospitality and transportation businesses inside SeaTac.
The wage rate would remain in effect until Jan. 15, 2015 when “this living wage shall be adjusted to maintain employee purchasing power by increasing the current year’s wage rate by the rate of inflation.” That revaluation will take place every year thereafter, the proposal says.
In addition, the proposed ordinance says, “tips, gratuities, service charges and commissions shall not be credited” as part the wage rate. Tips and service fees “shall be retained by or paid to the non-managerial, nonsupervisory … workers who perform (the) services.”
Paid sick and ‘safe time’
If the paid sick time is approved, SeaTac will be the second city in King County to have such a provision since Seattle passed a paid sick leave ordinance in September, 2011.
The SeaTac proposal says, “A covered worker shall accrue at least one hour of paid sick and safe time for every 40 hours worked” and workers “entitled to use any accrued hours of compensated time as soon as those hours have accrued.”
The worker does not need a note from a doctor or any other “certification of illness” to get the full wage sick pay. Any accrued time must be paid to the worker at the end of the year.
Pay for “safe time” is to cover certain needs concerning health problems at a school or because of “domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or to attend to health care treatment.”
Looking for the proposer
A Google search for the “SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs” resulted in no results other than items involving the city’s news release and media reports on this proposal.
The matter may or may not surface at the Tuesday afternoon and evening SeaTac City Council study session or regular Council meeting.
The SeaTac news release Monday said only that the Council would vote on the proposal if the required number of signatures were presented.
The city release said, “It has come to the attention of the City of SeaTac that members of the public may attend upcoming council meetings to comment on the proposed initiative. While the city understands that members of the public may have strong opinions on either side of this issue, it is imperative that city facilities not be used to either promote or oppose any current or proposed ballot measure.”
The release added that under state laws and guidelines “the city wants to advise that members of the public and council shall not give comments regarding a political candidate or a ballot proposition pursuant to RCW 42.17A.555. In the event anyone begins making comments in violation of this statute, any member of the council, city clerk or the city attorney may interrupt with a point of order in order to ensure compliance with state law.”
A critic of the SeaTac Council, and SeaTac Blog columnist Earl Gipson (“The Cactus Speaks”) said he would address the matter at the session.
“I plan on reading the entire Minimum Work Standard Initiative into the Public record on Tuesday with no comment either way and according to my attorneys (who may be with me also), this will not violate any RCW or comment policy. I may be able to do it within 10 minutes (and will have a group) and if not will have another group to finish and another if necessary.”
There was no comment from the city and a call seeking comment from City Manager Todd Cutts was not returned.