The Stand

Space Needle: Give your employees a raise!

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15Mar18-space-needle_nathan1SEATTLE (March 19, 2015) — Space Needle workers and community supporters rallied Wednesday to again send the message to Space Needle management that their employees deserve a raise. The group marched to the nearby corporate headquarters to deliver a petition with the signatures of a majority of Space Needle workers and more than 500 supporters calling on the company to drop its legal appeals of federal labor violations and to give the workers a raise.

The rally at the base of the Space Needle featured statements by workers at the Symbol of Seattle who are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living in the city.

“I sat my parents down and we went over all the bills that we are responsible for monthly. Just looking at the rent alone, my whole paycheck was used up,” said valet cashier Veronica Chernichenko, who stood surrounded by her coworkers next to a banner reading “1,000+ days without a raise.”

The Space Needle has refused to give the cooks, elevator operators, greeters, and other workers a raise for more than 1,000 days, instead offering their employees an insulting webinar on how to “live on less.”

“It’s heartbreaking to know that the struggles I’m facing wouldn’t be such a struggle if we got the raises we deserve,” Chernichenko said. “Without the dedicated staff it has, the Space Needle would not be the icon that it is today.”

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Space Needle workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 8, have been operating under an expired contract for nearly three years.

Following the rally, which drew nearly 100 workers and labor and community supporters, workers marched to Space Needle corporate headquarters on 6th Avenue. Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, led a delegation of Space Needle employees into the corporate offices to deliver the petition to a management representative.

15Mar18-space-needle_jeffJohnson issued the following statement afterwards:

“Courageous and inspirational Space Needle workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 8, spoke up passionately for a raise at the Space Needle corporate headquarters yesterday after a rally in front of the Needle. The intended audience was Space Needle CEO Ron Sevart. But of course, we were told he was unavailable, and so the petitions and letters from the community were given to the Director of Public Relations Dave Mandapat. If Mr. Mandapat was listening, he heard a group of workers who have great pride in the work they do for the Needle and workers who want and deserve to be respected for their skill and commitment they bring to the job every day, despite being undervalued.”

Ingersoll Gender Center founder Marsha Botzer emceed Wednesday’s rally, which also featured words of support from Seattle City Council members Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant, who called the behavior of the Seattle landmark “disgraceful.”

Since the union contract expired, Space Needle management has committed a number of violations of federal labor law, including coercing and intimidating union workers. A January ruling by the National Labor Relations Board against the Space Needle for its attempted union-busting ordered the company to bring two workers back to work with significant back pay. However, the Space Needle has chosen to appeal the ruling, further delaying justice for workers.

space-needle-raise-roos“I encourage the Space Needle to drop its appeal of the NLRB ruling and to restore my and your employees’ pride, faith and trust in the Space Needle Corporation,” Licata said.

This is the second time that a majority of workers have expressed their need for a raise directly to Space Needle management, and the second time that the company has failed to meaningfully address workers’ concerns.

Management did recently announced that they would be hiring 200 temporary summer employees, many at a higher wage rate than most current union employees. The first summer hiring fair was also scheduled to take place on March 18.

UNITE HERE Local 8, the hospitality union of the Pacific Northwest, represents nearly 5,000 workers in hospitality and foodservice throughout Washington and Oregon, including SkyCity restaurant employees, banquet servers, elevator operators, greeters, and other workers at the Space Needle. For more information, visit the Local 8 website.

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