Sound Progress

Research and insights from Puget Sound Sage.

How Can Sea-Tac Airport Become a First Class Port?

sea-tac airportSea-Tac Airport has fallen behind minimum workforce standards set by other major West Coast Ports. Other cities and ports in the coastal region have made significant gains toward reducing poverty, increasing customer service and creating safer and more secure operations. However, Sea-Tac Airport’s governing body, the Port of Seattle, has yet to lay out a serious agenda to keep up.

So what can the Port of Seattle do to ensure that Sea-Tac is a First Class Port?  How about taking a cue from San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland:

Raise Worker Wages: All four airports raised wages to reduce poverty in their cities.  Thousands of airline contractor employees on the West Coast currently earn $3.74 to $6.18 more per hour than their counterparts at SeaTac.

Paid Sick Leave: Concerned with the public cost of care for uninsured airport workers, as well as the risk of exposure to H1N1 and potential pandemics at the airport, LA’s City Council offered paid sick days and offered a health insurance incentive for workers at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Develop and Implement Workforce Standards:  San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors implemented workforce standards at San Francisco International Airport to address the adverse effects of low wages and high turnover.  Fifteen months after implementing these standards, employee turnover fell dramatically, decreasing by an average of 60% among firms that experienced average wage increases of 10 % or more.  How did they do it?  By implementing minimum compensation standards, enhanced hiring practices, improved working conditions and increased training.  They also established a Health Care Accountability Ordinance, which guaranteed quality health insurance for most port workers.

Implement a Living Wage Policy:  After learning about low-wage working conditions at Oakland International Airport, Oakland voters overwhelmingly approved (78%) a living wage ballot measure for all airport workers.  A similar policy will go to the voters of the City of SeaTac in November 2013.  For more information about this initiative read our post on the Good Jobs Initiative.

For more information about what the Port of Seattle can do read the report Below the Radar

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