Voters in the working-class Seattle suburb of SeaTac, which encompasses the region's main airport, will decide on November 5, 2013 whether to enact one of the country's highest minimum wages in a ballot measure supporters hope will serve as a model for similar efforts elsewhere.
SeaTac is now center stage in a national push for a $15 minimum wage.
Residents of the city south of Seattle will have their say on Tuesday following a costly initiative campaign in which the two sides combined to spend $1.8 million — enough money to hire every registered voter in the city for a day at $15 per hour.
The proposal would require a $15 minimum wage for many workers in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It follows a series of summertime rallies in which fast food workers and others around the country called attention to their struggle to earn a living.
Proponents say the plan will support the local economy and particularly help thousands of workers who could use the money. Opponents express concern about the impacts on businesses and contend that the plan's enforcement may end up costing the small city money.
Groups outside of Washington state will be watching the results. National labor unions have contributed to support the effort while national business organizations have contributed in opposition.
The campaign has also drawn the attention of the mayoral candidates in nearby Seattle. Both Mayor Mike McGinn and challenger Ed Murray have voiced support for the initiative and the idea of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle.
Washington state has the nation's highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
First published November 5 2013, 8:17 AM