Seattle’s Space Needle workers demand raise and fair union contract

Space Needle workers, union members, and labor activists gathered on the steps of the Space Needle for a rally demanding a fair union contract and protesting current low wages. Seattle city council members Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant joined the demonstration and spoke about the need for the symbol of Seattle to treat their workers well and provide a living wage. The National Labor Relations Board has found the Space Needle guilty of 65 labor violations and instead of rectifying the situation, the Space Needle instead chose to fight each separate charge in court, further delaying negotiations and adding to the already 1000 plus days the workers have not received a raise. After the rally, Space Needle workers marched to the head office, located four blocks away, and demanded to be seen by the CEO but were once again blocked by the Director of PR, Dave Mandapat.

From the Unite Here Local 8 Press release…

SEATTLE – Space Needle workers and labor and community supporters rallied Wednesday to again send the message to Space Needle management that workers deserve a raise.

Wednesday’s rally at the base of the Space Needle featured statements by workers at the Symbol of Seattle who are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living in the city.

“I sat my parents down and we went over all the bills that we are responsible for monthly. Just looking at the rent alone, my whole paycheck was used up” said valet cashier Veronica Chernichenko, who stood surrounded by her coworkers next to a banner reading “1,000+ days without a raise.”

The Space Needle has refused to give the cooks, elevator operators, greeters, and other workers a raise for over 1,000 days, instead offering their employees an insulting webinar on how to “live on less.”

“It’s heartbreaking to know that the struggles I’m facing wouldn’t be such a struggle if we got the raises we deserve,” said Chernichenko. “Without the dedicated staff it has, the Space Needle would not be the icon that it is today.”

 

Space Needle workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 8, have been operating under an expired contract for nearly three years.

Ingersoll Gender Center founder Marsha Botzer MC’d the event, which also featured words of support from Seattle City Council members Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant.

Councilmember Sawant called the behavior of the Seattle landmark “disgraceful.”

Since the union contract expired, Space Needle management has committed a number of violations of federal labor law, including coercing and intimidating union workers. A January ruling by the NLRB would punish the Space Needle for its attempted union-busting and bring two workers back to work with significant back pay. However, the Space Needle has chosen to appeal the ruling, further delaying justice for workers.

“I encourage the Space Needle to drop its appeal of the NLRB ruling and to restore my and your employees’ pride, faith and trust in the Space Needle Corporation,” said Councilmember Licata.

Following the rally, which drew over 75 workers and labor and community supporters, workers marched to Space Needle corporate headquarters on 6th Avenue. There, they delivered a petition with the signatures of a majority of Space Needle workers and over 500 supporters calling on the company to drop its legal appeal of the NLRB decision and to give workers a raise.

This is the second time that a majority of workers have expressed their need for a raise directly to Space Needle management, and the second time that the company has failed to meaningfully address workers’ concerns.

Management did recently announced that they would be hiring 200 temporary summer employees, many at a higher wage rate than most current union employees. The first summer hiring fair was also scheduled to take place on March 18.

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UNITE HERE Local 8, the hospitality union of the Pacific Northwest, represents nearly 5,000 workers in hospitality and foodservice throughout Washington and Oregon, including SkyCity restaurant employees, banquet servers, elevator operators, greeters, and other workers at the Space Needle. For more information, please visit our website at: http://www.unitehere8.org

Abby Lawlor

UNITE HERE! Local 8

2800 First Ave. Ste. 3

Seattle, WA 98121

(206) 963-6458

abby@unitehere8.org

www.unitehere8.org

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