On Feb. 13, 2024 the Port of Seattle Commissioners held their monthly general meeting at Pier 69. This meeting was simultaneously streamed online for accessibility, and speakers were given the opportunity to respond digitally via Microsoft Teams.

Even with these digital options available, the meeting room was full. Many members of IBEW46 (a Seattle electrician’s union) were present, as well as folks hailing from several nearby tribal communities. 

The meeting began with the Special Order of the Day, which was to publicly recognize the 50th anniversary of the Boldt Decision. This decision, fought for and reached in 1974, affirmed the right of tribal communities in Washington to harvest up to 50% of the fish present in their waters. 

Members of the Haida, Tsimshian, Tlingit, Aleut, Muckleshoot, and Nooksack tribes were present and gave comments, each ending in a thank you to the commission in their indigenous languages. The comments both affirmed the importance of the decision and acknowledged those who risked their lives in the fish in’s and fish war’s to make it happen.

The Port of Seattle’s newly elected Tribal Relations Officer, Roxanne Murphy of the Nooksack tribe, made her comments on Tuesday in traditional garb. She celebrated the commitment to the Decision, hoping that it will allow future generations to continue traditional harvesting. 

The Executive Director’s Report was addressed next. Executive Director Steve Metruck highlighted the strong recovery of international travel at SeaTac Airport, reporting passenger volume highs four times the volume of 2023. 

Metruck also supported one of the items on the agenda, Item 10A, which calls for the renewal of the Economic Development Partnership Program. This program was wildly popular last year, and provided cities with grant money for economic recovery and small business support. 

Item 10A was also supported during the public comment period. Jeanie Ashe from the city of Bothell described how the city had used the money to market underrepresented businesses, support their life sciences and manufacturing districts, and to do a marketing analysis. Of all the letters sent to be read onto the record during the public comment period, six of the seven were from cities praising the program and calling for its continuation. Item 10A was passed later in the meeting. 

A significant number of speakers in the public comment section were from the electrician’s union IBEW46, seeking equitable pay. After their collective bargaining agreement with the port 15 months ago, they say their demands have not been met. 

“A fight about money is never really about money in a contract negotiation” said Katie Garrow, “it’s about dads who can afford to give their kids braces, it’s about families taking a long awaited vacation, it’s about adult children who are working being able to afford a caretaker for a parent to make sure they take their meds on time, and finally, it’s about signaling respect” 

IBEW46 argues that wage raises are within the port’s budget and that they should be paid comparatively to other unions working in the port. This group has been showing up at meetings for weeks. 

Lastly, a SeaTac resident named Denise Utley called for commissioners to circle back on hundreds of residents near the airport whose sound installation and repayment programs were under Alpine Windows, who later declared bankruptcy. Her windows began molding and sustaining water damage after only three years.

“This is not considered normal wear and tear,” Utley said. “In 2007 several of us and our windows were even featured on KING5 evening news.” 

With Alpine Windows out of the picture, Utley has lost her warranty, and knows that others are dealing with this problem. She acknowledged the program is running much better than it once did, and hopes that commissioners will check back in on those who were part of previous iterations of the program.