Seattle city council approves I-124 for November ballot.
UPDATE: On Aug. 15 the Seattle City Council passed a resolution urging voters to vote yes on I-124 in the November general election. The vote was 7 to 1, with Councilmember Tim Burgess casting the only vote against the resolution. He said the council should remain neutral on the initiative. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw called the resolution “a little vague,” but supported the resolution.
(July 25, 2016) The Seattle city council voted today to put Initiative 124 in front of voters on the November general election ballot. This initiative has been spearheaded by Unite Here Local 8 and, if passed, will impose new regulations and workplace requirements on Seattle hotel employers. The council had the option of rejecting, passing or sending the initiative to voters.
Signatures to qualify I-124 for the ballot were verified by King County Records and Elections on Friday, July 15, and were immediately sent over to the city clerk for introductions and referral to the city council. The initiative was introduced at a full city council meeting the following Monday. At that meeting, there were significant questions about proper parliamentary procedure and concerns about the legality of the initiative. Councilmember Herbold introduced a resolution to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot, which the Council discussed and approved to consider at today’s July 25 council meeting. Councilmember Sawant also introduced a resolution to have council vote on the initiative and immediately pass it into law. The council chose to send the initiative to the general election ballot.
If Seattle voters approve the initiative in November, the city will:
- Require Seattle hotel employers to provide panic buttons to all employees who work by themselves in guestrooms.
- Require hotels to maintain blacklists of guests accused of sexual harassment.
- Limit housekeeper workloads at “large hotels” to no more than 5,000 square feet of floor space in an eight-hour day. The initiative does not include a definition of “large hotels.”
- Require employers to pay for gold-level healthcare plans.
- Require new owners to hire from a preferential hiring list of former employees for at least six months after a transition of ownership.
- Provide a waiver exempting hotels with collective bargaining agreements.
The City will be authorized to investigate alleged violations, and persons claiming injury would be protected from retaliation and able to sue employers. Fines would go to underwrite city enforcement efforts and to affected employees and the person filing the report.
Seattle hoteliers are working with WLA and the Seattle Hotel Association on this issue. If you have a question about the initiative, please email Morgan Hickel at firstname.lastname@example.org.