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SeaTac Workers File Class Action Lawsuit Over Wages

A jet takes off from Sea-Tac airport.
Flickr Photo/Alan Turkus (CC BY 2.0)
A jet takes off from Sea-Tac airport.

Airport workers filed 14 class action lawsuits Wednesday, claiming wage theft against their employers.

They say they aren't being paid the $15 dollar minimum wage in SeaTac, which went into effect in 2014.

Their lawyers estimate the workers are owed, on average, $20,000 in back-pay and penalties.

Duncan Turner is the lead counsel on the lawsuits, filed in King County Superior Court.

He says that many of the plaintiffs are immigrants, and they work as baggage handlers, rental car staff, janitors, and plane refuelers at Sea-Tac Aiport.

"They are, generally speaking, a vulnerable class, vulnerable to being exploited," Turner says. “If somebody's supposed to be paid $15 an hour, and you pay them $10, you're holding back one-third of their wages, and that means all these workers have to work two and three jobs."

Turner estimates there are 1,500 potential class members across the 14 companies they are suing.

He said some workers have been offered settlements that represent a fraction of the back pay they are owed.

Businesses have been fighting the minimum wage ordinance in court. The state Supreme Court upheld the law in December.

Editor's note, 02/19/2016: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the plaintiffs in this case.