In the continuing struggle of union workers at Seattle’s Space Needle, over 100 supporters and members of Unite Here Local 8 formed a picket line and risked arrest in front of the Space Needle. After 45 minutes of picketing, 23 activists sat in a circle at the middle of Broad Street and John Street in front of the Space Needle while 15-20 SPD officers blocked traffic and watched from the sidewalk. A marching band kept the picket line moving as the circle of civil disobedience chanted demands of job security.
The Space Needle recently compensated workers for back pay and missed raises, but the issue of subcontracting is still a concern among workers. KPLU reports “Space Needle LLC said in a statement that the workers have one of the strongest wages and benefits packages in the hospitality industry. The company says it’s had the right to subcontract for the last 28 years and that this issue hasn’t come up in previous decades of bargaining.” http://www.kplu.org/post/space-needle-workers-hold-one-day-picket-amid-long-running-labor-dispute
Space Needle worker Jessica Severance says “I don’t understand why they can say at negotiations that they have no plans to subcontract, but can’t manage to put that language in our contracts?” As the Union’s action shut down the Space Needle Loop where the valet is located, Union organizers gathered donations from the workers and supporters in excess of $280 to account for any tips lost for the 5 Space Needle valets working between 3:30 pm and 5 pm.
From the Facebook event page…
“This Labor Day, Space Needle workers are taking to the picket line to demand assurance from the private owners of the Symbol of Seattle that they’ll still have their jobs come next September.
Originating as a holiday to celebrate the contributions of American workers, Labor Day is now one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, meaning hard work and long hours for hospitality workers and runaway profits for hospitality owners. In 2014, Seattle had the highest average hotel room rates of any city in the country over the Labor Day weekend.
Space Needle workers have organized and fought to make their jobs some of the best hospitality jobs in the city. However, these advances could all be lost if management decides to bring in subcontractors. Under existing conditions, an outside contractor could cut wages and benefits and refuse to rehire long-time workers.
Subcontracting is pervasive throughout the hospitality industry and workers in valet and food and beverage services are particularly vulnerable. As such, subcontracting protections have become a standard component of union contracts for hospitality workers in Seattle.
Space Needle owners are still refusing to grant workers these basic protections.”