Seattle hotel worker Justina Guzman. Photo by Hannah Long-Higgins.

Hotel Workers Ballot Initiative Got Its Signatures

Initiative 124, designed to protect hotel housekeepers, is on its way to qualifying for the November ballot.

The Seattle ballot inititiative designed to ensure hotel workers protections against workplace injury and sexual harassment— Initiative 124, launched by hospitality union Unite Here Local 8 — turned in more than enough signatures to King County at 4 p.m. on Friday to qualify for the November ballot. The minimum required number of signatures is just over 20,000; I-124 supporters turned in nearly 32,000.

The City Council is expected to vote on a resolution next Monday, July 25th, to send the initiative on to Seattle voters this fall.

“We’re just really excited to see the initiative move forward and to be one step closer to passing these protections into law,” says Abby Lawlor, an organizer with Unite Here Local 8 who’s been heading up the I-124 campaign. “We’re pushing [the Council] to act quickly,” she adds, noting that if the approval happens before August 2, I-124 will certainly be on this year’s ballot; if the Council delays for any reason and misses the August 2 deadline, the initiative would be bumped until next year.

That would be a huge letdown to supporters, who now include State Senator Pramila Jayapal, several dozen labor union and nonprofit organizations, and many hotel housekeepers and room servers across Seattle. I-124 is designed to guarantee that some of the protections that Unite Here Local 8 has already negotiated for its members extend to all Seattle hotels, regardless of union membership, including better access to health care, workload limitations, and job security.

Hotel housekeepers and room servers have some of the lowest-paid and highest-risk jobs of any across the country. In Seattle, many earn at or just above minimum wage, putting their positions near the bottom of all available jobs in the city that don’t require a college degree. While the work often results in chronic injury (according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hotel and motel employees experience a significantly higher rate of injury on the job than do coal miners), these workers are among the least likely of all full-time employees in Washington state to have employer-provided health care. A vast majority of these workers are women — primarily immigrant women of color — and many report routinely experiencing sexual harassment on the job.

On Wednesday at 5 p.m., Unite Here Local 8 will host a Hotel Safety Summit at the Labor Temple (Hall 8, 2800 First Ave., Seattle, WA 98121) in support of the initiative, featuring Senator Jayapal, several City Councilmembers, labor groups, and, certainly, hotel workers.

More in News & Comment

Iosia Faletogo was fatally shot by police on Dec. 31, 2018. Photo via Facebook
Local Samoan Community Reacts to Fatal Police Shooting

Following the death of Iosia Faletogo, community leaders brainstorm creation of cultural home.

Seattle Public Schools superintendent finalist Denise Juneau served two terms as Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Parents and Students Weigh In on School District’s Strategic Plan

The draft proposal lists Seattle Public Schools’ priorities for the next three to five years.

South King County Coalition Targets Affordable Housing

Rent and housing increases have hit south end communities particularly hard.

Microsoft Will Invest $500 Million Toward Regional Housing

The money will be used to subsidize and preserve low- and middle-income housing.

Seattle Set to Propose Eviction Reform

A forthcoming resolution follows the recommendations from a 2018 report.

Exit Poll Indicates Washington Voters Still Support Climate Change Action

State environmental organizations’ poll points to continuing support for carbon-reducing measures.

Wikimedia Commons CFCF photo
Proposed Law Would Raise Age Limit For Tobacco Sales

State lawmakers cite health concerns over tobacco and vape products.

Members of the Tlingit and Haida Washington Chapter held a meeting between the Washington State Patrol and urban indigenous organizations on December 21, 2018 at Seattle’s Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Urban Indigenous Communities Push for Action to Address Violence Against Women

A new law seeks to strength data collection on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Most Read