skip to main content

Elections

King County Elections

King County Elections
919 Southwest Grady Way
Renton, WA 98057-2906

206-296-VOTE
TTY: Relay: 711
FAX: 206-296-0108

Hours:
Weekdays 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

   November 8 2016 General Election


City of Seattle

Simple majority (Seattle City Charter, Art. IV.1.F)

City of Seattle
Initiative Measure No. 124


Initiative 124 concerns health, safety, and labor standards for Seattle hotel employees.

If passed, this initiative would require certain sized hotel-employers to further protect employees against assault, sexual harassment, and injury by retaining lists of accused guests among other measures; improve access to healthcare; limit workloads; and provide limited job security for employees upon hotel ownership transfer. Requirements except assault protections are waivable through collective bargaining. The City may investigate violations. Persons claiming injury are protected from retaliation and may sue hotel-employers. Penalties go to City enforcement, affected employees, and the complainant.

Should this measure be enacted into law?



Yes
No

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Initiative 124, if approved, would require employers of hotels or motels (“Hotels”) containing at least 60 guest rooms to comply with new rules to protect employees and, additionally, would require employers of Hotels containing at least 100 guest rooms to limit workloads for housekeepers and improve access to healthcare for low-wage employees.  I-124 would create a new, 7-part chapter in the Seattle Municipal Code. 

Part 1 requires Hotel employers to maintain lists of guests accused of assaulting, sexually assaulting, or sexually harassing Hotel employees.  Accused guests must remain on such lists for five years.  Whenever a guest appearing on the list is staying at the Hotel, the employer must warn employees to exercise caution and must provide the guest’s room number to employees working alone.  If the accusation is supported by a sworn statement or other evidence, the employer must exclude the accused guest for three years. 

Part 1 also requires Hotel employers to give panic buttons to employees working alone in guest rooms and to post signs notifying guests of protections for employees from assault and harassment.  Hotel employees who allege that a guest assaulted or sexually harassed them must be reassigned to new floors or work areas upon request and are entitled to paid time off to contact the police and/or a counselor or advisor.  The Hotel employer, with the consent of the complaining employee, must report accusations of criminal conduct by a guest to law enforcement.  

Part 2 contains a general provision requiring Hotel employers to provide a safe workplace, as well as more specific provisions about exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace.  For hotels with at least 100 guest rooms, Part 2 also limits the amount of floor space a Hotel housekeeper may clean in a workday without receiving overtime pay.

Part 3 requires employers of Hotels with at least 100 guest rooms to provide healthcare subsidies to employees earning 400% or less of the federal poverty line unless the employer provides health coverage equal to at least a gold-level policy on the Washington Health Care Benefit Exchange.

Part 4 concerns worker retention.  When a Hotel undergoes a change in control, the incoming employer must retain a list of workers, based on seniority, who were employed by the previous owner.  Upon transfer of ownership, the new employer must hire from the list for six months and must retain employees hired from the list for at least 90 days, absent good cause for a dismissal. 

Part 5 prohibits retaliation against Hotel employees, establishes record-keeping requirements for Hotel employers, and gives the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) authority to investigate violations.  It also allows injured parties to bring private enforcement actions to obtain damages and other relief and subjects Hotel employers to civil penalties.  Penalties are distributed to OLS, affected employees, and the complainant.

Part 6 contains definitions.

Part 7 allows any part of I-124, except for the provisions in Part 1 protecting employees from assault and sexual harassment, to be waived through a collective bargaining agreement. 

For questions about this measure, contact: Polly Grow, Seattle Ethics and Elections, 206-615-1248, polly.grow@seattle.gov

Statement For

Seattle protects women.

Initiative 124 protects hotel housekeepers from sexual harassment by hotel guests.

124 isn’t singling out the hotel industry.  124 is singling out a unique circumstance.  There is no other industry where so many women are working alone cleaning men’s bedrooms without any protection…no security guard standing by, no general public watching, no surveillance cameras.

Surveys this year show that as many as 53% of Seattle hotel housekeepers have been subjected to gross sexual behavior by male hotel guests.

The solution is prevention.  Initiative 124 will provide hotel housekeepers with a “panic button.”  When they encounter a bad circumstance, they can easily summon hotel security for help.   If hotel security concludes that the guest’s behavior was inappropriate, the guest will be asked to leave and not return to that hotel in the future.

Hotel housekeepers have among the highest rates of injury of any occupation in the nation.  Heavy mattresses = shoulder injuries.  Cleaning hundreds of bathrooms = falls.   Cleaning 20 bedrooms and bathrooms in 8 hours pushes women to work at a pace that breaks down their bodies.  124 applies reasonable workload standards already used by thoughtful hotel employers.

124 makes the promise of health care more attainable for hotel housekeepers and levels the competitive playing field for hotels that already provide affordable family health benefits to housekeepers.

Seattle’s hospitality industry is strong.  Our growth in hotel guests was 20% faster than the rest of the nation and hotel room prices rose 9%.  Visitors spent $6.8 billion here.   Seattle invests in the industry because we respect its importance.

Like any political campaign, there will be enough argument back and forth that can be difficult to follow.   In the case of 124, you need not look any further than what our City Attorney has neutrally summarized:  “If passed, this initiative would require certain sized hotel-employers to further protect employees against assault, sexual harassment, and injury…improve access to health care…limit workloads...and provide limited job security for employees upon hotel ownership transfer.”

124 is a good step in the right direction for an important industry. 

Endorsements:

NARAL Pro Choice,  King County Labor Council,  One America Votes,  Casa Latina,  King County Asian Pacific Islander Coalition,  LGBTQ Allyship,  Gender Justice League,  Legal Voice,  API Chaya, Church Council of Greater Seattle,  Puget Sound Sage,  Statewide Poverty Action Network, King County Coalition Ending Gender Based Violence, and many more.

www.seattleprotectswomen.org. Yes on 124.

Rebuttal of Statement Against

Mayor Ed Murray and City Council passed a resolution officially endorsing Initiative 124.

After careful analysis, city staff concluded in their “Summary of Financial Implications” that 124 has no negative financial impacts.

It states: 

“This legislation does not have direct financial implications.”

“Does the legislation have indirect or long-term financial impacts to the City of Seattle that are not reflected in the above?  NO.”

The opponents now say that hotel employers will correct problems through better self-governance and protect housekeepers from sexual harassment.   No doubt some will.

However, laws are never written because of the good behavior of the majority.  Rather, they are written to protect people from the bad behavior of a few.

This law was carefully crafted to protect people’s civil liberties while protecting the women working in hotels.  As to claims to the contrary …we disagree.

Seattle protects women.  That’s who we are; that’s what I-124 does.

Submitted by: Lorena Gonzalez, Pramila Jayapal, Nicole Grant, www.seattleprotectswomen.org 

Statement Against

Vote NO on Initiative 124

We can do better together.

Seattle hotels are committed to a safe and healthy work environment for all team members.

Hotels and workers have partnered to find meaningful and effective solutions to protect workers. That’s why large and small hotels across Seattle are already implementing best practices and technology and working with safety experts to ensure a safe working environment.

In contrast, I-124 was written in isolation and ignored the input of safety experts, hotels and state and local agencies. It is written to protect some workers, while excluding others. It is poorly written and will undermine progress on worker safety because it ignores proven worker safety protocols and it will lead to years of costly courtroom battles to clear up vague, unenforceable and illegal language. And Seattle taxpayers will get stuck with the bill.

Regardless of its intentions, this one-sided initiative is flawed, overreaching and seriously erodes privacy and violates legal protections.

Only protects some hotel workers

I-124 includes an unusual carve out for the unions that wrote the initiative. It allows them (behind closed doors) to negotiate away employee health care benefits, workplace safety protections and worker retention standards in exchange for union representation. This will create a patchwork of contradictory worker protections across the city, which will make enforcement more difficult and costly and will leave hotel workers with different protections.

Violates right to due process

Under I-124, hotels must blacklist any guest accused of harassing a worker, even when there is no legal complaint. Without evidence or investigation, accused guests are permanently blacklisted with no notice and no way to clear their name. We all agree that hotel workers need to be protected, but that’s not our system of justice.

An unfunded, unenforceable initiative

I-124 provides no funding to monitor the 127 hotels across Seattle. Seattle taxpayers will be on the hook for the new city staff and resources necessary to enforce this measure. The city will either have to raise our taxes or take money from other critical priorities to pay for this unfunded initiative.

Reject I-124 – We Can Do Better Together

Seattle works best when we come together – employers, workers, experts and state and local government – to find progressive solutions to our challenges. We've done it before with the $15 minimum wage and we can do it again so that workers, guests and employers all have a voice.

Rebuttal Of Statement For

Rebuttal, No on I-124

It is outright false for I-124 supporters to claim Seattle hotels leave employees “without any protection” at work.

Nearly all Seattle hotels already have safety alerts and protocols in place and commit to further enhance them.

Authors of I-124 would have known this had they sought input of safety experts, hotels, hotel employees and state and local agencies.

This initiative won’t make workers safer. It is full of legal flaws. It violates citizens’ rights to due process.

The city attorney summarized I-124, as required by law. The same city attorney recommended city council meet in executive session to discuss I-124’s legal issues.

Why are supporters ignoring that unions can hypocritically negotiate away most of the provisions in the initiative?

I-124 isn’t a “good step in the right direction.” It’ll end up stranded in courtrooms wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars. And, the city has no money for enforcement.

Vote no.
www.VoteNo124.com

Submitted by: Jenne Neptune, Maud Smith Daudon, Carla Murray, www.VoteNo124.com

Complete Text of Resolution

Complete text of measure