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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 11, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 02
City to join fight for hotel safety
Section One
ALL STORIES
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City to join fight for hotel safety

Pete Holmes to appeal ruling on I-124

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The City of Seattle will join the legal fight to save Initiative 124, which aimed to protect hotel workers from unsafe conditions.

Approved by 77% of Seattle voters in 2016, the measure requires hotels to provide workers with emergency panic buttons, keep lists of guests accused of assaulting or harassing workers, and bar those guests in certain circumstances.

I-124 was challenged by hotel industry lawyers, and on Christmas Eve 2018, it was struck down by a Washington state appeals court.

On January 9, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda appeared with hotel union leaders at a press conference at the Seattle Labor Temple to announce that the City of Seattle would appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.

'Doing nothing as your city attorney is simply not an option,' Holmes told the union members gathered at the press conference. 'Seattle is with you.'

In a separate statement, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said she backed Holmes' appeal.

'Seattle will continue to?lead the way?by protecting and creating?opportunity for all?workers in our community,' the mayor said.

'With overwhelming support, voters spoke clearly that Seattle will ensure fair treatment in the workplace. I support City Attorney Holmes' decision to appeal the court's ruling, and we hope to ultimately see the initiative upheld. Working with the City Council, we will put forward new legislation to provide the important protections for the health and safety of employees working at hotels in Seattle.'

D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE - the union that represents hospitality workers - also spoke at the press conference, surrounded by his members in their signature red-and-black union T-shirts.

Pledging the support of the whole union to UNITE HERE Local 8 members in Seattle, Taylor said this case could have national consequences.

'They want to take us on here in Seattle, because you set the trend [for greater legal protections for workers],' he noted.

Local hotel workers expressed frustration with the ongoing legal challenges to safety measures in their workplaces.

'I'm so angry and sad that the hotels keep attacking I-124,' Sonia Guevara said. Guevara works as a hotel housekeeper and is a member of UNITE HERE 8. 'They know they can do these things for workers. They just don't want to.'

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