Tired of runaround, runway workers to push initiative for higher pay

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SEATTLE -- Airport contract workers who for years have battled below-average wages may have finally found a way to increase their compensation, the Stranger reported Wednesday.

According to the Stranger, a group of labor unions, community members and other organizations filed an initiative with the city of SeaTac that would mandate all hospitality and transportation workers receive paid sick time and a minimum pay of $15 per hour. The initiative would effectively supercede wages given to bag handlers and other runway workers by Alaska Airlines and other airport carriers.

Workers have requested raises and more benefits for years, the Stranger reported, and only recently decided to use an initiative tactic. Since the airport is located entirely within the city limits of SeaTac, all workers are subject to city laws.

The initiative received 2,200 signatures -- more than half of the people who voted in SeaTac's 2011 general election -- within the first two weeks. Supporters see this as a promising sign that an initiative would pass.

"Support at the doors is overwhelmingly positive," Thea Levkovitz, a spokeswoman for SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs, told the Stranger.

Sea-Tac contract workers such as Alaska Airlines bag handlers have some of the worst pay and benefits on the West Coast, the Stranger reported. Alaska bag handlers made an average of $9.70 an hour, compared to aiport workers at Oakland making $13.45 per hour and Los Angeles workers who earn $15.37 per hour.