Hospitality Jobs Should Sustain Families, Not Drain Public Resources
Over 200 hotel workers, policy makers, and community members gathered last week to discuss the impact of hotel development on Seattle’s hospitality workers. According to a recent report from Puget Sound Sage, much of Seattle’s hotel workforce currently lives near poverty, requiring public dollars to subsidize their health care costs as well as their food and housing.
“I have to work two jobs to make ends meet,” said Ruyao, a housekeeper at the Hyatt at Olive 8 in downtown Seattle. “Most of my days I spend working on my feet from 8am until 11 o’clock at night.”
Hotel work is often difficult and dangerous. Pain and injury plague hotel workers at a higher rate than coal miners. “The job is very hard on my body, said Reyna, a housekeeper at the Edgewater Hotel. “As I get older it gets worse and worse.”
With smart partnerships and higher industry standards, healthy businesses can create healthy communities in the Seattle area. Service-sector jobs that pay living wages, provide benefits and create long-term economic security along the light rail corridor would allow for residents to prosper and further contribute to the local economy.
Hospitality workers at the event renewed their commitment to make their voices heard in the future of the industry. Workers at the Edgewater Hotel and the Space Needle continue their struggle for living wages and benefits, job security, and respect, while the workers at the Hyatt at Olive 8 are fighting for a fair process to decide whether or not they want a union, free of employer interference.
Special thanks to King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Council Chair Larry Gossett, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen for participating in the Town Hall.
The Town Hall on Seattle Hotels was co-sponsored by: Seattle City Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Nick Licata, Bruce Harrell, Tim Burgess, Jean Godden, and Tom Rasmussen, King County Councilmembers Larry Gossett and Julia Patterson, Puget Sound Sage, Low Income Housing Institute, Faith Action Network, Church Council of Greater Seattle, Pride at Work, Seattle Gay News, One America, Economic Opportunity Institute, Central Co-op, and the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition