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Labor, community demands ‘Justice at the Needle’

UPDATED (Mar. 16) — More than 100 community and labor activists, including members of Washington YELL (Young Emerging Labor Leaders),  joined Space Needle workers March 15 at the Seattle Center to raise their voices to demand justice at the Needle. Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, (pictured here at the march) wrote the following:

For nine months the Space Needle Corporation has insisted that the workers agree to contracting-out language before they will sign a new contract. They are demanding that hotel and restaurant workers agree to job insecurity. Given the economic recession that workers are still struggling with, the employers’ demand ought to be against the law in more than just the court of moral decency.

The irony March 15 was that at a labor luncheon earlier in the day, the Space Needle Corporation had donated the food for the meal. While the company should be commended for this generosity, they should recognize that their ability to be generous came from the labor of the servers, busers, dishwashers, food prep workers, and chefs at the Space Needle Restaurant.

So it is time for the Space Needle Corporation, a very profitable company in a very profitable city and region, to recognize that the source of its good fortune is not luck but its workers. And they should respect and dignify that work by withdrawing their preposterous proposal of placing Space Needle workers livelihoods in jeopardy.

From the Space Needle observation deck Ron Sevart, the CEO and President of the Space Needle Corporation, just needs to look south or north and he can see the sights of major labor disputes over an employer’s insistence to sub-contract work out to lower paid and lowered skilled workers. Mr. Sevart the model is neither fair nor does it work.

This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Center and construction of the Space Needle for the 1962 World’s Fair. In honor of the workers who built this city resource and out of respect for the workers that maintain the Space Needle experience it is time to take contracting-out language off the table and settle a fair contract. For more information go to Justice@TheNeedle.

SEATTLE (Mar. 12) — Each year, the Space Needle attracts more than 1 million visitors, making it one of the top tourist destinations in Washington State. The Sky City Restaurant at the Needle is the most visited restaurant in Seattle, and costs visitors more than $60 a plate. Accordingly, wages and benefits for workers at the Space Needle are somewhat higher than average service-sector jobs. But that may soon change.

Workers at the Space Needle, who are represented by UNITE HERE Local 8, have been in negotiations with the Space Needle Corporation for many months, where workers are fighting for living wages, benefits, and job security. In recent bargaining sessions, management has asked for the ability to subcontract its workforce, a practice also known as outsourcing.

“In other words, I could be replaced any day with temporary workers making lower wages and no benefits,” said Sanjeet Thebe, a server assistant at the Space Needle. “What kind of a future is that for me and my family?”

Join Space Needle workers in their struggle to fight back at a Justice @ the Needle rally from 3 to 4 p.m. this Thursday, March 15. Join Space Needle workers and their community supporters as we send a message to management: Don’t let the symbol of Seattle stand for poverty!

For more information, visit the Justice @ the Needle Facebook page or visit the UNITE HERE Local 8 website.

UNITE HERE Local 8 represents about 4,000 workers in the hospitality industries of Washington State. Local 8 members work in hotels, restaurants, food service, and airport concessions. They include room cleaners, cooks, bartenders, bellmen, food and beverage servers, bussers, and dishwashers.

Also at The Stand — Space Needle workers fight for job security (Feb. 7)

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!