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Airport Workers To Port: 'It's Like Living Paycheck To Paycheck'

Liz Jones
Mohammad Kadhim, a baggage handler at Sea-Tac Airport, appeals to Port of Seattle Commissioners for higher wages.

Port of Seattle Commissioners said Tuesday they will consider higher wages for some airport workers, despite last week's court ruling that the Port is exempt from a new ordinance in SeaTac. That law would require a $15 hourly minimum wage for airport-related workers.

Dozens of airport workers filled the commission’s first annual meeting on Tuesday, to push the Port to uphold the $15 wage anyway.

Commissioner Courtney Gregoire addressed the crowd about the Port’s position on living wage jobs.

“A wheelchair attendant should not have to turn to food stamps," Gregoire said. "An airline fueler just starting out, who aspires to be a mechanic, should see a clear career pathway."

Gregoire gave no specifics about a proposal for new wages or benefits for airport workers but she said the commission plans to hold hearings soon and take action by summer.

Mohammad Kadhim said he’s eager for a bigger paycheck. He works at Sea-Tac Airport as a baggage handler and earns $9.50 an hour.

“I don’t have nothing left over. It’s like living paycheck to paycheck," Kadhim said. "I can’t afford to miss one day because we’re not getting paid for sick leave."

Kadhim says he would use additional income to take more college classes toward an engineering degree.

The campaign backing the $15 hourly wage has also appealed the state Supreme Court regarding the Port’s exemption.

Year started with KUOW: 2006