Proposed ballot initiative seeks to regulate workload of housekeepers at Seattle hotels.

Proposed ballot initiative seeks to regulate workload of housekeepers at Seattle hotels.

(April 21, 2016) A proposed ballot initiative has surfaced in Seattle that seeks to implement a wide range of onerous workplace provisions on hotel employers. Initiative 124 (view here), which is being shepherded by Unite HERE Local 8, is not yet eligible for signature gathering and has many steps to go before it could be placed before voters later this year.

If passed, this initiative would require “large hotel” employers to:

  • take measures to protect their employees from assault, sexual harassment, and injury on the job including the provision of panic buttons to all employees who work by themselves in guest rooms;
  • limit workloads based on square footage of rooms serviced by housekeepers to no more than 5,000 square feet of floor space in an eight-hour day;
  • pay for access to affordable healthcare,
  • provide job security for employees upon a transition in hotel ownership, where the employer would be required to use a preferential hiring list for at least six months; and
  • provide a waiver exempting collective bargaining agreements.

Additionally, the city may investigate alleged violations. Persons claiming injury are protected from retaliation and may sue employers. Penalties go to city enforcement efforts, affected employees, and the person bringing the case.

In order to get on the ballot Unite HERE Local 8 must gather at least 20,638 valid signatures and submit them no later than August 2. At that point the city council has several options. They can choose to pass the initiative as an ordinance, reject it, fail to act upon it, or reject it and pass a similar measure. If they pass the initiative as an ordinance, it will become law; if they reject it, fail to act or pass another similar measure, the initiative as written will go to the ballot.

The WLA/WRA Government Affairs team is closely watching developments and will keep you informed as this process moves forward. You can contact with any questions.