By Victor O.
The topic of the minimum wage increase is a very controversial one, and while it is understandable for employers to be mostly in opposition to raises, it is surprising to note that some workers are equally against raising the minimum wage threshold. But workers in areas where wage increases have been witnessed can testify to how beneficial such a move can be.
The Huffington Post reports of how workers in the airport city of SeaTac in Washington have experienced significant improvement in their lives as a result of a minimum wage level exceeding the wage approved by the federal government.
The federal minimum wage has not changed from $7.25 per hour since 2009. In spite of the debate having been going on for a while already, Congress appears not to be any closer to agreeing on a new, higher minimum wage level. While Democrats have improved their wage proposal to $12 per hour — from $10.10 — the Republicans have been unflinching in their opposition to a hike.
Several states have already raised their respective minimum wages beyond the federal level, but the change in SeaTac has been most significant and swift. With the drive for the passage led by the Fight for $15 labor movement, a minimum wage of $15 per hour was approved in the city near Seattle back in 2013.
However, the minimum wage law in SeaTac does not yet apply to all workers, so as to make it acceptable to a great extent. It is meant to apply to hospitality and transportation employees at large businesses connected to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Several companies led by Alaska Airlines have appealed against the law and have been permitted to pay below $15 per hour to some of their workers until the case is sorted out in an appeals court.
But workers at MasterPark, a company which operates several parking lots in the vicinity of the airport, are lucky to be among those who are already benefiting from the new wage law.
Sammi Babakrkhil, a MasterPark shuttle driver and valet attendant, saw his before-tip hourly wage rise significantly from just $9.55 to $15. The man, who emigrated from Afghanistan to the U.S. 11 years ago, said he was able to quit his second full-time role of driving shuttles, cutting his weekly work hours in half from 80 hours per week to 40.
“My kids used to not see me,” Babakrkhil said. “Now I make a little bit less, but I’m enjoying my life.”
The father of three also said that he now has time to exercise.
Ashley Young, a MasterPark cashier, said her hourly wage has risen by more than $3 since the law was passed. The 27-year-old added that she can afford to take part in competitive softball, her favorite pastime, once again.
The SeaTac outcome has also led to the introduction of a new minimum wage law in neighboring Seattle. But the raise to $15 per hour will follow a gradual process spanning several years.