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Judge rejects hotel groups’ challenge of Initiative 124

Seattle hotel safety initiative is upheld in its entirety


SEATTLE (June 12, 2017) — King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick ruled Friday in favor of the City of Seattle, UNITE HERE Local 8 and Seattle Protects Women and upheld Initiative 124 in its entirety. The ruling concluded that “the Initiative and Ordinance do not violate the federal or Washington State Constitutions, are not inconsistent with or preempted by existing law, and that plaintiffs Associations lack the requisite standing for a facial constitutional challenge.”

Initiative 124, the Seattle Hotel Employee Health and Safety Initiative, was passed overwhelmingly with a 77 percent “yes” vote in the Nov. 8, 2016 election. Shortly thereafter, the Seattle Hotel Association, Washington Hospitality Association, and American Hotel & Lodging Association filed suit to block the law.

“In going after I-124, the hotel industry showed a clear disrespect and disregard for both hotel workers and Seattle voters,” said UNITE HERE Local 8 President Erik Van Rossum. “We are very pleased but not surprised that the court has sided with all of us in Seattle who know that protecting hotel housekeepers from harassment and injury is both legal and necessary.”

I-124 contains new rights and protections for hotel workers, including panic buttons, workload limits for housekeepers, expanded access to affordable family health insurance, and job security.

A majority of Seattle hotel workers are immigrants and people of color; and over 80 percent of hotel housekeepers are women.

“We needed this initiative,” said Yan Deng, a lobby attendant and former housekeeper at a Seattle hotel. “I am so happy that it will continue to be in place and that the hotels will have no excuse now not to follow the law.”

“With the Washington State Convention Center poised to invest an additional $1.7 billion in public dollars towards growing and supporting the hotel industry in Seattle, these protections are more important than ever,” said Van Rossum. “We hope this is the end of the road for the industry’s legal challenges.”

UNITE HERE Local 8, the hospitality union of the Pacific Northwest, represents nearly 5,000 workers in hospitality and foodservice throughout Washington and Oregon.

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