Both sides brace for impact of SeaTac wage measure
SEATAC — In less than six weeks, small-business owner Brett Habenicht could face what he calls a deal breaker: A new $15-an-hour minimum wage for airport-related workers in SeaTac would add an estimated $100,000 to his annual payroll costs, wiping out a year’s profits.
“I don’t know how we’d do it,” said Habenicht, co-owner of a Quiznos sandwich shop in the airport’s B Concourse. “We’re up against a wall.”
Hourly-wage worker Chita Khamvongsa, who makes about $23,000 a year at a MasterPark lot on International Boulevard in SeaTac, also faces major change come Jan. 1: A $15 minimum wage would boost her hourly pay by 36 percent and bring more stability to her and her three young children.
“I’m living paycheck to paycheck right now,” she said. “If it happens, it happens. We just don’t know.”
SeaTac Proposition 1, which would raise the city’s hourly-wage floor for hospitality and transportation workers to $15 from the statewide standard of $9.32 and assure annual inflation adjustments, looks likely to pass after nearly three weeks of vote counting.
But people on both sides face uncertainty that probably will extend beyond the initiative’s Jan. 1 start date. Affected employees are mulling whether Proposition 1, if it holds up, will bring them bigger paychecks or fewer work hours, while affected employers at the airport wonder if they can revise leases that lock in their prices and rents.