Seattle City Council's Sawant, 3 others arrested at protest over lawsuit to block $15 wage

SEATAC, Wash. -- Socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant was arrested Wednesday at a protest over Alaska Airlines' lawsuit that aims to block the $15 minimum wage for airport workers.

The demonstrators had gathered outside the Alaska Airlines corporate headquarters in the city of SeaTac.

The group "Working Washington" said about 100 Sea-Tac airport workers and community supporters were protesting the lawsuit when four people were arrested, apparently for refusing to disperse.

Sawant and the others were later released after each posted $500 bail.

“It was the courage of SeaTac workers and their victory at the ballot that made $15/hour possible in Seattle," Sawant said in a statement issued Wednesday night. "I’m proud to stand with them today against Alaska Airlines’ attempted robbery.

"First, Alaska Airlines said the City of SeaTac doesn’t have the right to enforce $15/hour for airport workers, only the Port does. Now Alaska Airlines is leading the charge on a federal lawsuit claiming the Port has no authority to raise wages. Which is it?

"What’s clear is they’d rather spend millions trying to overturn democracy than pay low-wage workers what they’ve earned," Sawant said.

Besides Sawant, hose arrested were identified as

    Alaska Airlines, which opposed the $15 minimum wage for airport and airport-related workers at Sea-Tac, a measure which was approved by voters, recently filed a federal lawsuit claiming the Port of Seattle -- which manages the airport -- doesn’t have the power to set minimum wages.

    Yet, Working Washington said, 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 1.

    "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," the group said in a statement.