SeaTac business owners say they may leave if Prop. 1 passes

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 29, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 6:19 PM

Thousands of Sea-Tac Airport workers say they’re living in poverty, barely able to afford food or electricity.

“I have to prioritize between do I want the TV shut off or the electricity shut off,” said Chris Smith, an airport worker.

He’s one of many airport workers who have turned to food banks to stretch his resources and afford his rent. With 20 years experience working at the airport, the most he’s made his $10 an hour.

“It’s sad,” he said.

The City of SeaTac’s Proposition One would increase their pay to a minimum of $15 an hour.  Washington State’s minimum wage is $9.19 an hour.

If voters approve it next week, nearly 6,300 airport workers will get a 63 percent raise

While only transportation and hospitality workers would be affected, businesses fear that raise could force them to close their doors.

“It’s going to create a labor market that’s expecting $15 an hour,” said Mike Condon, owner of Mike’s Community Cup.

According to Condon, employees would cost more, hurting his bottom line.

“I would have to charge $5 for a cup of coffee to make a profit,” he said.

While recently renegotiating his lease, Condon asked for an opt-out clause in three months. If the proposition passes, he will move his coffee shop.

While supporters have raised nearly $1.1 million for the proposition, opponents have only raised about $648,000.

MSR Wholesale Balloons donated $50.

“If this passes I’ve got to think we’re next in line,” said Jeff Manke, owner.

While most of Manke’s employees already make at least $15 an hour, he may relocate his business out of principle.

“I don’t want people telling me how to run my business,” he said.

According to a study paid for by opponents of Prop. 1, if it’s approved, the  City of SeaTac would take a $3 million hit over the next five years, which could impact road projects and park maintenance. The City Manager’s Office believes it’s too early to predict an impact.

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