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$15 minimum wage measure survives

A measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for many businesses at or near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport appears to have survived in a ballot recount.
A measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for many businesses at or near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport appears to have survived in a ballot recount.Elaine Thompson

SEATTLE — After an election recount Monday, a proposition to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in the suburb of SeaTac appears to have survived, King County election officials said. 

The measure passed by 77 votes in last month's election, with 6,003 votes counted. 

Ballots for SeaTac Proposition 1 were recounted by hand Monday, and no changes were identified, election director Sherril Huff said in a statement Monday afternoon. The recount results were expected to be finalized Tuesday. 

The recount was requested by Common Sense SeaTac, a business group that opposed the proposition. 

The SeaTac minimum wage campaign drew $1.8 million in spending in the small city, with national labor groups supporting higher pay and national business groups opposing it. 

The measure, which would require a $15 minimum wage and a handful of paid sick days for about 6,500 workers in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is set to take effect Jan. 1. 

“Even though the citizens of SeaTac are narrowly divided on the wisdom of this idea, the businesses now have to prepare for living with this measure,” said Mike West, co-chair of Common Sense SeaTac.

“As we said during the campaign, this measure will have undesirable effects,” West said in an emailed statement. “Across some 70 businesses, there are likely to be price increases, layoffs, changes in hiring, as well as the administrative costs expected on the taxpayers of SeaTac. But business managers are innovators and problem-solvers. Collectively we will work with the city to seek the least costly path to implementation and individually each business will work to survive.” 

Washington has the nation's highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. 

The proposition is also facing a court challenge, led by Alaska Airlines' owner, Alaska Air Group Inc. The airline is challenging whether an initiative can give the city authority over the airport, which is operated by the Port of Seattle. 

A hearing is scheduled Friday before King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas. 

NBC News business writer Margaret Santjer contributed to this report.

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