Picket at Grand Hyatt Seattle 2.13.15

Federal Panel Upholds Ruling that Space Needle Violated Workers’ Rights

Space Needle Workers Hope For Final Answer to 2013 Labor Charges

SEATTLE – A three-member panel of the federal body that monitors U.S. labor law issued a decision and order in favor of Space Needle workers and their union at the end of the day Friday.

“I’ve been a line cook at the Space Needle for ten years,” said Andy Roos, “and the past three years have been excruciating. Work shouldn’t be this stressful. My coworkers and I are committed to our jobs and want to share in the success of the symbol of Seattle. Perhaps this decision will be a wake-up call to the Space Needle owners.”

Workers first brought charges of unfair labor practices against the Space Needle in 2013. They won an initial legal victory in 2014 when an administrative law judge found for their claims, but management had appealed the ruling.

In Friday’s ruling, National Labor Relations Board Chair Mark Gaston Pearce and members Kent Y. Hirozawa and Harry I. Johnson III found Space Needle management had violated federal labor law by undertaking a number of efforts aimed at discouraging workers from supporting or participating in their union since their contract expired in 2011.

The NLRB officers found that Space Needle management failed to recall two pro-union employees; distributed letters to employees encouraging them to resign from the union; polled employees about their attitudes toward the union; made coercive statements to workers; and reneged on a prior written agreement with the union to resume payroll-based deduction of its employees’ union dues.

In response to the Space Needle’s legal violations, the National Labor Relations Board ordered the company to desist from anti-union interference among its employees, return two employees to work with back pay, and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back dues that the company owes to the union representing Space Needle workers, UNITE HERE Local 8.

“What is most important is that the workers who lost their jobs two years ago get back to work and that the coercion and the unfair treatment of workers stops,” said Erik Van Rossum, president of UNITE HERE Local 8 and a former Space Needle server’s assistant. “Seattle is a place of deeply-held values and intense pride, and the symbol of our city shouldn’t be associated with this kind of illegal behavior.”

Space Needle workers recently sought support from Seattle City Council in their ongoing fight for a new contract and overdue raises. The company has offered workers just one raise in the last 4 and a half years—an increase of $0.35 an hour two years ago.

“Together, we have fought back against this trampling of workers’ rights, “said SkyCity restaurant server Julia Dube, one of two workers who will return to the Space Needle if the ruling stands. “Today is a tremendous day for Seattle workers, and especially those at the Space Needle.”

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.

The Space Needle is owned by the Wright Family, descendants of the founders of both the Howard S. Wright Construction Company and PACCAR Inc. Owner Howard S. Wright III recently served as the co-chair of Mayor Ed Murray’s Economic Inequality Advisory Committee.

Portland Airport Press Conference and Port Commission Meeting – Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 8:30 am

Join UNITE HERE Local 8 union and non-union airport workers and their fight for job security! In the coming years a majority of the concessionaire leases expire at the Portland International Airport.  50 union workers were just displaced on December 31st at PDX Gustav’s restaurant due to an expired lease and no worker retention.  That means, when a concessionaire lease expires and a new business comes in, they do not have to retain the workers.  This is bad for workers, bad for travelers, and bad for Portland. Join us now to tell the Port Commission we need worker retention.

 What: Press conference with workers and port commission meeting to follow. We will release the results of a PDX job conditions survey.

Where: Portland International Airport:  The Multnomah room (in the conference center) upstairs from the clock tower.

When: Wednesday January 14th 2015

Time: Gathering at 8:30am with a port commission hearing to follow for those who can stay.  Workers will be testifying.

Seattle University food service workers unionize with UNITE HERE Local 8, ratify first contract.

Seattle University PhotoSEATTLE, WA – After organizing to join UNITE HERE Local 8, food service workers at Seattle University  overwhelmingly ratified their first union contract on Wednesday.

The 150 workers serving students and faculty at Seattle University are employed by Bon Appetit Management Company and will receive substantial pay increases, lower-cost health benefits, and numerous other improvements to their working conditions.

“I’ve been a cashier at Seattle University for more than 6 years, “ said negotiating committee member Glenda Navas. “I feel so proud that we now have a contract that gives consistent wage increases, immigration rights and protections, cheaper health insurance for myself and my coworkers, and most importantly, job security. Si se pudo!”

Workers went to management at the end of the academic year in 2014 with strong majority support for the Union and demanded recognition. In their delegation they were joined by student and faculty supporters.

“As a student at Seattle U, my greatest sources of pride and commitment to our mission of social justice have been in moments like these, when staff and students are able to see a direct impact in our communities,” said Class of 2015 student Lorena Mendoza-Flores.  “I’m so happy knowing that the women who serve us will now be able to better support their families.  Working with Unite Here and Bon Appetit towards the first contract for our cafeteria workers was an experience that will stay with me forever.”

Union members from around the Puget Sound Region were involved in the successful organizing effort. They shared the idea of the Union with their sisters and brothers working at Seattle University from early on in the campaign.  

“We welcome Seattle University workers to our union. Seattle is booming and getting more expensive, while we are struggling. Together we can change that and raise the standard for food service workers in the Seattle area. We deserve better,” said Melody Swett, cocktail server and longtime union member at the Westin Seattle.