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Hotel companies file suit to block worker protections in Seattle

The following is from UNITE HERE Local 8:

SEATTLE (Jan. 3, 2017) — A trio of national, state and local hospitality industry associations filed suit Dec. 19 attacking Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 14.25 known as the Seattle Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative. Citizen-led Initiative 124 passed overwhelmingly last month with 77% of ballots cast. It received broad support from the voting public, the Mayor and the Seattle City Council, and numerous community and labor organizations.

“In challenging the Initiative post-passage, local hotels are demonstrating a clear disregard for hotel employees, Seattle voters, and Seattle values,” said Rebecca Saldaña, Executive Director of Puget Sound Sage and recent appointee to the Washington State Senate.

The local and national hospitality industry spent $260,000 dollars campaigning against I-124 during the election but were unable to make a credible case to voters that hotels were already adequately providing for the health and safety of their employees.

“The passage of the initiative was a bright spot on November 8, showing that the misogyny, racism, and xenophobia evident in the election of Donald Trump had no place in Seattle. Now, the hotel industry is seeking to undo this hard-fought victory,” said Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council.

“As our city steels itself for defensive fights to protect everyone who calls Seattle home, this attack from within by the hotel community to undermine protections for hotel workers is deeply saddening,” said Grant. “Now, more than ever, we must stand together to make sure hotel housekeepers — immigrant women and women of color — receive the protections they need and are due under the law.”

Previous hospitality industry suits against local labor standards including the SeaTac and Seattle minimum wages have proven meritless, serving only to delay justice for impacted workers.

The industry suit focuses in large part on defending hotel guests who sexually harass workers from any inconvenience or consequence resulting from their actions.

“The lawsuit states it loud and clear: ‘Hotels stand in the shoes of hotel guests’,” said UNITE HERE Local 8 President Erik Van Rossum. “But we in the Seattle community stand in the shoes of hotel housekeepers. It’s who we are.”

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