Filo Foods, LLC v. City of Seatac

Decision Date20 August 2015
Docket NumberNo. 89723–9.,89723–9.
Citation183 Wash.2d 770,357 P.3d 1040
CourtWashington Supreme Court
PartiesFILO FOODS, LLC; BF Foods, LLC; Alaska Airlines, Inc.; and the Washington Restaurant Association, Respondents/Cross–Appellants, v. The CITY OF SEATAC; Kristina Gregg, City of SeaTac City Clerk, in her official capacity, Appellants/Cross–Respondents, The Port of Seattle, Respondent, SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs, Appellant/Cross–Respondent.

Timothy George Leyh, Shane P. Cramer, Calfo Harrigan Leyh & Eakes LLP, Seattle, WA, for Respondent.

Dmitri L. Iglitzin, Jennifer L. Robbins, Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lav, Wayne Douglas Tanaka, Ogden Murphy Wallace, Seattle, WA, Mary E. Mirante Bartolo, Mark Sterling Johnsen, City of Seatac Legal Dept, Seatac, WA, for Appellants/Cross–Respondents.

Cecilia Ann Cordova, Pacific Alliance Law, PLLC, Harry J.f. Korrell III, Rebecca Olson Meissner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Taylor S. Ball, Attorney at Law, Herman L. Wacker, Seattle, WA, for Respondents/Cross–Appellants.

Robert James Guite, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, San Francisco, CA, M. Roy Goldberg, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, Douglas W. Hall, Washington, DC, amicus counsel for Airlines for America.

Timothy J. O'connell, Stoel Rives LLP, Seattle, WA, Kristopher Ian Tefft, Washington Self–Insurers Association, Olympia, WA, amicus counsel for Association of Washington Business.

Patrick Dennis Mcvey, James Erik Breitenbucher, Riddell Williams PS, Seattle, WA, amicus counsel for Masterpark, LLC.

Noah Guzzo Purcell, Washington Attorney General's Office, Solicitor General Division Attorney General, Attorney at Law, Olympia, WA, amicus counsel for Attorney General.

Christopher Holm Howard, Averil Budge Rothrock, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC, Seattle, WA, Frank Joseph Chmelik, Chmelik Sitkin & Davis P.S., Seth Ananda Woolson, Attorney at Law, Bellingham, WA, amicus counsel for Washington Public Ports Association.



¶ 1 In 2013, voters from the city of SeaTac approved local Proposition 1. That initiative establishes a $15–per–hour minimum wage and other benefits and rights for employees in the hospitality and transportation industries in the city of SeaTac. See ch. 7.45 SeaTac Municipal Code. Opponents of Proposition 1 challenged its validity under state and federal law. The trial court largely rejected these challenges, with two exceptions. The trial court held that (1) under state law, Proposition 1 could not be enforced at the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport and (2) federal labor law preempted a provision of Proposition 1 protecting workers from certain types of retaliation. We reverse both of these rulings. We hold that Proposition 1 can be enforced at the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport because there is no indication that it will interfere with airport operations. We also hold that federal labor law does not preempt the provision protecting workers from retaliation. We otherwise affirm the trial court and thus uphold Proposition 1 in its entirety.


¶ 2 The SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs (Committee) is a coalition of individuals, businesses, neighborhood associations, immigrant groups, civil rights groups, faith organizations, and labor organizations. In June 2013, the Committee circulated a petition to city of SeaTac voters that proposed a set of minimum employment standards for certain hospitality and transportation employers in the city of SeaTac, including an hourly minimum wage of $15. After finding sufficient signatures supporting the petition, the SeaTac City Council put the initiative on the ballot.

¶ 3 Filo Foods LLC, BF Foods LLC, Alaska Airlines Inc., and the Washington Restaurant Association (collectively Filo Foods) sued the city of SeaTac and City Clerk Kristina Gregg (collectively the City) to challenge the sufficiency of the signatures to put Proposition 1 on the ballot. The Committee intervened in support of the City. Thereafter, the superior court held that Proposition 1 could not go on the ballot, but the Court of Appeals reversed, Filo Foods, LLC v. City of SeaTac, 179 Wash.App. 401, 319 P.3d 817, review denied, 181 Wash.2d 1006, 332 P.3d 984 (2014),1 and the measure appeared on the November 5, 2013, ballot. Voters approved Proposition 1 by a narrow margin. By its terms, it was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014.

¶ 4 Shortly after the election, the superior court allowed Filo Foods to amend its complaint to include substantive challenges to Proposition 1, now an enacted ordinance, and to name the Port of Seattle as a defendant. The Port of Seattle is a special-purpose municipal corporation that, among other things, owns and operates the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport within the city of SeaTac's territorial boundaries. In the amended complaint, Filo Foods alleged that Proposition 1 is invalid on a number of grounds, including that it (1) violates the single-subject rule, (2) violates the Port of Seattle's jurisdiction over the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, (3) is preempted by federal labor and aviation laws, and (4) violates the dormant commerce clause.2

¶ 5 Filo Foods moved for summary judgment on these challenges, and the trial court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. First, the trial court determined that Proposition 1 did not violate the single-subject rule. Second, the trial court held that Proposition 1 violates a state law that gives the Port of Seattle jurisdiction over the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport and thus could not be enforced at the airport. Third, the trial court held that federal labor law preempts Proposition 1's antiretaliation provision, but that federal law did not otherwise preempt Proposition 1. Finally, the trial court held that Proposition 1 did not violate the dormant commerce clause. The Committee and the City sought direct discretionary review, and Filo Foods sought cross review. We designated these as notices of appeal, retained review, and designated the Port of Seattle as a respondent.


¶ 6 We review a trial court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Lakey v. Puget Sound Energy, Inc., 176 Wash.2d 909, 922, 296 P.3d 860 (2013). Summary judgment is proper when “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” CR 56(c).3

¶ 7 Filo Foods challenges the validity of Proposition 1 on several grounds. First, Filo Foods argues that Proposition 1 is procedurally invalid in its entirety because it violates the single-subject rule. We hold that Proposition 1 does not violate the single-subject rule. Second, Filo Foods contends that under state law, Proposition 1 may not be applied at the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. We conclude that Proposition 1 can be applied at the airport because there is no indication that it will interfere with airport operations. Third, Filo Foods argues that federal law preempts Proposition 1, in whole or, alternatively, in part. We conclude federal law does not preempt Proposition 1 in whole or in part. Finally, Filo Foods argues that Proposition 1 violates the dormant commerce clause; we conclude that it does not. Thus, we find Proposition 1 valid in its entirety.

I. Single–Subject Challenge

¶ 8 RCW 35A.12.130 provides in relevant part that [n]o ordinance shall contain more than one subject and that must be clearly expressed in its title.” While no judicial opinion has interpreted this statutory language, the parties agree that it appears to be an extension of article II, section 19 of our state constitution. We therefore consider our cases interpreting that constitutional provision.

¶ 9 In determining whether a bill, ordinance, or initiative relates to one general subject or multiple specific subjects, Washington courts look to the provision's title for guidance. When classifying an initiative to the people (as opposed to an initiative to the legislative body), the operative title is the ballot title because ‘it is the ballot title with which voters are faced in the voting booth.’ Wash. Citizens Action of Wash. v. State, 162 Wash.2d 142, 154, 171 P.3d 486 (2007) (quoting Wash. Fed'n of State Emps. v. State, 127 Wash.2d 544, 555, 901 P.2d 1028 (1995) ). Contrary to the Committee's contention, the ballot title includes more than the first sentence of the ballot description. It “consists of a statement of the subject of the measure, a concise description of the measure, and the question of whether or not the measure should be enacted into law.” Wash. Ass'n for Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention v. State, 174 Wash.2d 642, 655, 278 P.3d 632 (2012).4

¶ 10 A ballot title may be general or restrictive. When a ballot title “suggests a general, overarching subject matter for the initiative,” Wash. Ass'n of Neigh. Stores v. State, 149 Wash.2d 359, 369, 70 P.3d 920 (2003), it is considered to be general and ‘great liberality will be indulged to hold that any subject reasonably germane to such title may be embraced,’ Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 v. State, 142 Wash.2d 183, 207, 11 P.3d 762 (2000) (quoting DeCano v. State, 7 Wash.2d 613, 627, 110 P.2d 627 (1941) ). Only rational unity among the matters need exist. City of Burien v. Kiga, 144 Wash.2d 819, 825–26, 31 P.3d 659 (2001). Rational unity exists when the matters within the body of the initiative are germane to the general title and to one another. Id. at 826, 31 P.3d 659. In contrast, a title is considered restrictive ‘where a particular part or branch of a subject is carved out and selected as the subject of the legislation.’ State v. Broadaway, 133 Wash.2d 118, 127, 942 P.2d 363 (1997) (quoting Gruen v. State Tax Comm'n, 35 Wash.2d 1, 23, 211 P.2d 651 (1949) ). In other words, a restrictive title is narrow as opposed to broad, specific rather than generic. Id. Restrictive titles are not given the same liberal construction as general titles; laws with restrictive titles fail if...

To continue reading

Request your trial
28 cases
  • Wash. Bankers Ass'n v. State
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • September 30, 2021
    ...of in-state and out-of-state economic interests that benefits the former and burdens the latter.’ " Filo Foods, LLC v. City of SeaTac , 183 Wash.2d 770, 808, 357 P.3d 1040 (2015) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting United Haulers Ass'n v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth. , 55......
  • King Cnty. v. King Cnty. Water Districts Nos. 20, 45, 49, 90, 111, 119, 125
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • December 5, 2019 the powers expressly granted,’ " and those that are " ‘essential’ " to its " ‘objects and purposes.’ " Filo Foods, LLC v. City of SeaTac, 183 Wash.2d 770, 788, 357 P.3d 1040 (2015) (quoting Port of Seattle v. Wash. Utils. & Transp. Comm’n, 92 Wash.2d 789, 794-95, 597 P.2d 383 (1979) ). T......
  • Black v. Cent. Puget Sound Reg'l Transit Auth.
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • February 13, 2020
    ...Ass’n of Neigh. Stores v. State, 149 Wash.2d 359, 373, 70 P.3d 920 (2003) abrogated on other grounds by Filo Foods, LLC v. City of SeaTac, 183 Wash.2d 770, 357 P.3d 1040 (2015). Rather, the "new statute must explicitly show how it relates to statutes it amends." Id. (citing State v. Thorne,......
  • State v. Jenks
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • May 27, 2021
    ...authority to consider issues not raised by the parties if necessary to reach a proper decision.’ " Filo Foods, LLC v. City of SeaTac , 183 Wash.2d 770, 792, 357 P.3d 1040 (2015) (quoting Alverado v. Wash. Pub. Power Supply Sys. , 111 Wash.2d 424, 429, 759 P.2d 427 (1988) ). Consequently, th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT