Update on Seattle Initiative 124

Update on Seattle Initiative 124.

(July 5, 2016) Seattle Initiative 124, which seeks to impose a range of workplace provisions on Seattle hotel employers, took a step forward last week when UNITE HERE Local 8 submitted an estimated 30,000 signatures to King County Elections. The validation process to qualify the initiative for the November ballot is now underway.

If passed, this initiative would:

  • 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 would 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.

Once about 21,000 signatures are verified, there will be a 20-day window of time for the initiative to get on the Seattle City Council’s agenda. Then, the Council will have 45 days to take action.

Councilmembers will have the option to:  1) Pass the initiative as is into law; 2) Reject it; 3) Ignore it; or 4) Submit an alternative. I-124 will automatically end up on the ballot in every case unless the Council passes it as is. If an alternative is submitted, both I-124 and the alternative will be on the ballot.

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 morganh@warestaurant.org.