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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 25, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 47
Hotel workers win new contract with LGBT protectionsgton United for Marriage
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Hotel workers win new contract with LGBT protections

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The hotel workers union announced on November 22 that they had reached a tentative agreement with the management of the Westin Hotel on a new contract for Westin employees.

UNITE HERE Local 8 community organizer Jasmine Marwaha announced the agreement in an email to the union's supporters.

'Effective immediately,' Marwaha wrote, 'UNITE HERE Local 8 has reached a tentative agreement with the Westin Seattle that includes a guarantee from the owner, Host Hotels, that Westin workers will retain their jobs in the event of the hotel's sale.

'The agreement also includes updated immigrant rights and LGBT language, livable wage and benefit increases, and workload reductions for housekeepers.'

Successorship language that would enable Westin workers to keep their jobs if the hotel is sold was one of the main sticking points in the negotiations.

Updated nondiscrimination language protecting LGBT workers was also an issue.

UNITE HERE's 2007 Westin contract was the first hotel contract in the country to explicitly protect Transgender workers from discrimination on the job. This year, the union asked for updated language that would expand protections for LGBT hotel employees.

UNITE HERE credited community support for the successful outcome of their negotiations.

'This is a victory for the workers as well as the Seattle community,' Marwaha wrote on behalf of the union.

'We could not have done this without you, and the continued pressure that the Westin faced had a major impact on the negotiations, in addition to giving great moral support for the workers to hold firm until a favorable settlement was reached.'

While the contract must now be approved by union members, there seems to be no further obstacle to a final agreement.

The settlement means that the union will not call for a boycott of the hotel. They had previously asked for, and received, boycott authorization from their members and from the Martin Luther King County Labor Council.

This, in turn, means that Equal Rights Washington will be able to hold its Toasting Equality breakfast event at the Westin on December 9, without the hotel being under boycott.

The Seattle Hilton Hotel remains under boycott, however, because management has not agreed to successorship language that would protect jobs if the hotel were sold.

Contract negotiations are ongoing at other venues represented by UNITE HERE Local 8 - the Edgewater, the Space Needle, the Washington Athletic Club, and the DoubleTree and Hilton in SeaTac.

In all, Local 8 represents some 4,000 hotel and restaurant workers in western Washington.

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