Accommodations/food service State laws Injury prevention

Seattle residents approve initiative aimed at protecting hotel workers

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Seattle – Seattle voters on Nov. 8 approved a measure intended to make working conditions safer for the roughly 7,500 workers in the city’s hotel industry, including housekeepers, room service servers and other employees.

The goal of Initiative 124 is to protect workers from injuries due to “inhumane housekeeping workloads,” as well as sexual harassment and assault. The initiative restricts the number of guest rooms that a hotel housekeeper must clean to about 15 during an eight-hour shift, with additional limits on “strenuous room cleanings” and extra payment for cleaning additional square footage. It also calls for hotel employers to:

  • Supply panic buttons to workers.
  • Post anti-harassment policies in guest rooms.
  • Improve job security and access to family health insurance.

“As a former hotel employee and lawyer for victims of workplace harassment, I’ve witnessed, firsthand, women shattered, deflated, and without hope,” M. Lorena González, city councilmember, said in a statement. “When they had the courage to stand up to sexual assault or sexual harassment, they were fired, threatened, or subjected to even worse treatment. Initiative 124 is the solution those women have been waiting for.”

With about 84 percent of the ballots counted, nearly 276,000 voters approved Initiative 124, compared with 84,380 who voted it down.

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