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Arctic Club Hotel goes union
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Arctic Club Hotel goes union

Courtesy of Pride At Work AFL-CIO

UNITE HERE Local 8 - which represents hotel and restaurant workers in Western Washington - announced on October 8 that workers at the Arctic Club Hotel at 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street had won union recognition.

The historic building, known for its third-floor frieze of 29 carved walrus heads, first opened as a private club in 1917. It has been fully restored, and opened as a hotel last year.

"We workers at the Arctic Club are proud of our hotel, we love the building and now we are proud to be a part of Local 8," said Ross Kavanaugh, a member of the organizing committee who works at the hotel as a restaurant and banquet server.

"The organizing campaign brought us workers together as one and we look forward to making our hotel an even better place to work in the future," Kavanaugh added.

"We couldn't be more pleased," said Pride At Work spokesperson Mike Andrew. "UNITE HERE represents many LGBT workers and they have consistently supported equal protections for our community."

UNITE HERE Local 8 achieved landmark contract language explicitly protecting Transgender workers in their 2007 Westin contract. It is believed to be the first hotel contract in the county adding "gender identity, expression and characteristics" to anti-discrimination language.

Trans-inclusive anti-discrimination provisions are now standard in Local 8's contracts.

In March 2008, UNITE HERE's General Executive Board adopted a resolution supporting marriage equality, and in June this year Local 8 endorsed the Approve Referendum 71 Campaign.

The Arctic Club Hotel is the first hotel to be organized in downtown Seattle in over 25 years. Unionization there marks the next phase of UNITE HERE's "Hotel Workers Rising" campaign, which saw its initial Seattle kick-off during the Westin contract negotiations beginning in 2006.

"Hotel Workers Rising" aims to raise workers in what is typically a low-pay, high-injury industry to middle-class incomes and benefits. UNITE HERE's contracts stress affordable healthcare, safe workloads, job security, better compensation, a good retirement and respect on the job.

"The hospitality industry is central to Seattle's economy," Andrew said, "and LGBT workers are central to the hospitality industry. We have good partners at UNITE HERE, and all of us at Pride At Work are eager to work with them."

Pride At Work is an LGBT labor organization. It is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, but it also includes members of Change To Win and independent unions. Pride At Work can be contacted at 206-261-8110 or OutFront.PrideAtWork@gmail.com.

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