Over 100 Space Needle workers and community allies held a spirited rally in pouring rain under the shadow of Seattle’s signature icon yesterday. Five weeks before the Space Needle’s grand 50th anniversary celebration, they all call on the owners of this international symbol of Seattle to support living wages, good benefits and job security for the people who work there.
In recent bargaining sessions, the Space Needle has proposed subcontracting its workforce, a practice known as outsourcing. “In other words,” said Sanjeet Thebe, a server assistant at the Space Needle, “I could be replaced any day with temporary workers making lower wages and no benefits. Living under this stress has not been good—for me and for my family.”
The Space Needle and the workers have been in negotiations since May 2011. On February 9th, Space Needle workers overwhelmingly rejected a “last and final” proposal by management that did not include protections from subcontracting. Space Needle workers and management now turn to Federal Mediation, with the first session to take place in the end of March.
Each year the Space Needle attracts over a million visitors making it one of the top tourist destinations in the region. The Needle’s Sky City Restaurant is the most patronized in Seattle with dinners costing as much as $60 a plate. Space Needle workers have stood together and fought for years to achieve excellent wages and benefits at the icon of Seattle.
For the past 50 years the Space Needle has stood for good jobs and dignity and respect for workers. With outsourcing looming at the symbol of Seattle, the next 50 years could stand for poverty. That’s why Space Needle and other hospitality workers in Seattle are deciding to stand up and fight back.
Learn more at the Justice at the Needle Facebook page.