living wage

Low-income residents Washington state are disproportionately burdened by debt, according to a new report by the grassroots advocacy group Alliance for a Just Society. 

One reason: increasing student loan debt. The report says the average student loan debt at graduation in Washington jumped 23 percent from 2008 to 2012 to a total of more than $23,000. And the average credit card debt in the state is more than $5,000.

Mary Ann Chastain / AP Photo

If you’re a restaurant server in Texas or Mississippi, you probably earn $2.13 an hour from your employer. That’s the federal minimum wage for people who earn tips.

But here, servers earn at least $9.32 an hour, and then earn tips on top of that. Washington is one of seven states that require that tipped workers get the same minimum wage as everyone else. But with talk of a $15 an hour minimum wage, restaurant owners are pushing back.

Eric Risberg / AP Photo

Since San Francisco set a higher minimum wage for its airport workers back in 2000, the city has seen a positive effect, officials from San Francisco International Airport told Port of Seattle commissioners Tuesday.

Ashley Gross

At the beginning of the year, the minimum wage in the city of SeaTac jumped to $15 an hour for workers at large hotels and parking lot companies. But employees at one parking lot business have complained to the city that they still haven’t gotten the raise almost three months later. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Port of Seattle commissioners are pushing back against pressure from other elected officials to adopt the SeaTac living wage ordinance at Sea-Tac Airport.

A total of 57 state lawmakers, King County officials and SeaTac city officials have urged the commission to drop its opposition to the SeaTac minimum wage ordinance. Last November, SeaTac voters approved Proposition 1 to lift wages for some workers in and around the airport to $15 per hour. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Airport workers are urging Port of Seattle commissioners to adopt the $15 per hour minimum wage that voters in the city of SeaTac passed last November. 

The Port of Seattle, which oversees the seaport as well as Sea-Tac International Airport, argued in court late last year that it doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the SeaTac minimum wage initiative. King County Judge Andrea Darvas agreed, and as a result, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and other airport workers who had been hoping for a jump in pay at the beginning of this year haven’t gotten one.

AP Photo

Seattle Mayor-Elect Ed Murray has issued an executive order to move toward a $15 per hour minimum wage for all city employees.

Announcing the order at a news conference Friday morning, Murray said he has asked the heads of the city’s departments to develop a comprehensive strategy in the next four months to adopt the higher wage.

“They will explore potential options surrounding the implementation, including the possible option of making it retroactive to the beginning of 2014,” he said.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Seattle’s newly-elected Socialist city council member Kshama Sawant isn’t wasting any time. At a news conference Tuesday, Sawant boldly promised “2014 will be the year of the $15-an-hour minimum wage.”

Sawant, who won’t be sworn in until January, has already been meeting with council members and labor leaders. But she says she’s also looking for support from ordinary people on the street.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Dozens of fast-food workers and activists took to the streets Thursday for a day-long march in support of $15 minimum wage.

The march began in SeaTac, where voters approved a $15 minimum wage this year, and headed for Seattle City Hall as a symbolic push for Seattle to follow SeaTac’s suit and adopt the higher wage.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

A campaign to set a $15 minimum wage in the city of SeaTac is poised for victory.

King County officials are expected to certify the election Tuesday after counting some straggling votes that likely won't change the outcome. The measure involving workers in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has steadily expanded its lead in recent days and held a 77-vote advantage on Monday afternoon.

Associated Press

A federal judge has granted the request from Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and a small business owner at Sea-Tac International Airport to send their case back to a Washington state court. The businesses want SeaTac's Proposition 1, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for some workers, to be ruled illegal. 

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Workers at Sea-Tac International Airport are still not sure whether they’ll get a wage bump to $15 per hour come January. With SeaTac’s Proposition 1 still passing by a narrow margin, Alaska Airlines and other business interests are challenging the measure in court.

Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and a small business owner at the airport have been trying since July to block the minimum wage initiative in court. They’ve tried to keep the measure off the ballot and failed.

Now the issue is which court should hear the case. The business interests would like a King County judge to rule the initiative unconstitutional. But sponsors of the initiative, who are backed by unions like the Service Employees International Union, said the case should be heard in federal court.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Several races have swung wildly since the first vote count on Election Day, and it may be because campaigns are getting the hang of Washington’s all-mail elections.

University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto said it’s not uncommon for races to swing a percentage point or two in the days after election night, but not much more than that.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

An initiative to create a $15 minimum wage for many SeaTac workers is maintaining a narrow lead.

Updated vote totals released Wednesday showed the measure passing with 53 percent of the vote. Because of the city's small size, the gap is only a matter of a couple hundred votes. Since ballots only needed to be postmarked by Tuesday, more votes will be counted in the coming days.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

An initiative to create a $15 minimum wage for many workers in SeaTac is winning.

An early vote count Tuesday showed the measure carrying 54 percent of the vote. Because Washington state votes entirely by mail, more ballots are left to count.

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