Housekeepers Launch Ballot Initiative Against Creepy Guests (and Unreasonable Workloads)

The initiative would require hotel housekeepers be provided with panic buttons and create a standard response procedure for hotel management to address acts of harassment or assault by guests.

In her work as a hotel housekeeper at a downtown Seattle hotel, Ermalyn Magtuba is regularly sexually harassed by guests.

“They’ll answer the door naked or in their underwear,” said Magtuba. “It makes me uncomfortable and embarrassed. I don’t know of other jobs where women have to put up with the kinds of things that go on in hotels.”

Magtuba’s experience isn’t an isolated event. The threat of sexual harassment is especially present for women who work alone in hotel guest rooms. Over 80 percent of hotel housekeepers in Seattle are women, and a majority are immigrants and people of color.

In response, Seattle hotel workers, along with their union UNITE HERE Local 8, are launching an effort to put a measure on the ballot that would require hotel housekeepers be provided with panic buttons and create a standard response procedure for hotel management to address acts of harassment or assault by guests.

“No woman should feel unsafe at work, whether due to harassment and violence or dangerous workloads,” said campaign spokesperson Abby Lawlor in a press release about the effort (the press release also included Magtuba’s story). “By placing this measure on the ballot and passing it into law, voters will send a strong message that Seattle protects women.”

I-124 also addresses what workers say are excessive workloads for hotel housekeepers by limiting the amount of square footage they can clean in a shift. Housekeepers suffer more on-the-job injuries than coal miners do as a result of the strenuous and repetitive nature of their work, according to UNITE HERE.

The I-124 effort is funded by contributions from members to UNITE HERE, which represents workers at downtown Seattle hotels including the Westin, the Edgewater, the Hilton and the Arctic Club.

“Seattle will soon make a $1.5 billion public investment in the hotel industry through the publicly funded expansion of the Washington State Convention Center,” said UNITE HERE Local 8 President Erik Van Rossum. “Initiative 124 will ensure that this investment is consistent with our values—creating safe and harassment-free working environments, expanding access to quality healthcare coverage, and securing harmony between workers and employers.”

Over the next several weeks, Seattle voters can sign the petition to place I-124 on the November ballot.

More in News & Comment

Fire Damages Bellevue Mosque for Second Time in Just Over a Year

The building was vacant with its utilities shut off at the time of the fire.

Seattle’s WeWork Veterans in Residence Program Powered by Bunker Labs started in January 2018. Photo courtesy WeWork
Veterans Expand Their Entrepreneurial Skills Through New Program

WeWork and Bunker Labs’ partnership offers ten veterans specialized education and a workspace.

Snoqualmie National Forest Tree House Contained Child Porn

A man has been charged after images of children posing as fairies were found in the illegal cabin.

The Centralia Power Plant is a coal-burning plant owned by TransAlta which supplies 380 megawatts to Puget Sound Energy. It is located in Lewis County and slated to shut down by 2025. Photo by Aaron Kunkler
Washington Coal Country’s Underpowered Future

As Puget Sound Energy phases out coal, struggling Lewis County is left searching for economic answers.

Maru Mora Villalpando stands outside of the Seattle Immigration Court after her first deportation hearing on March 15, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Anti-ICE Organizer Stands Defiant at Her Own Deportation Hearing

Hundreds gathered in support of Maru Mora-Villalpando outside of Seattle Immigration Court.

Suburban and Rural Students Join the Call for Gun Control

What the National School Walkout looked like outside of Seattle.

Garfield High School students stand in silence to protest gun violence. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Seattle Students Take Part in the National School Walkout

Garfield High School students pay tribute to the Parkland victims by rallying for gun control.

Most Read