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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 19, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 08
Space Needle settles with union activist it fired illegally

Promises not to do it again
Section One
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Space Needle settles with union activist it fired illegally

Promises not to do it again

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A union activist illegally fired by the Space Needle was vindicated when the Seattle landmark settled an unlawful termination complaint he filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Fernando Jimenez had worked for the Space Needle for seven years when he was fired last March. The company fired him because of his participation in UNITE HERE Local 8, the union that represents Space Needle employees, he charged.

In the settlement of his complaint, announced February 16, the Space Needle agreed to pay Jimenez $24,000, plus back pay due to a second worker affected by Jimenez's case.

The Space Needle will also be required to post a notice informing workers of their union rights and commit to refrain from discrimination against union supporters. The required posting states, in part:

'WE WILL NOT discharge our employees because of their support for, or activities on behalf of, the Union.'

'I feel like I was treated unfairly, and I'm glad to see them being held accountable,' Jimenez said in a statement.

'I know my co-workers will continue to stand up for what's right at the Needle and hope that other workers who've been discriminated against for supporting the union will also be made whole.'

Jimenez's complaint was only one of more than a dozen unfair labor practice charges filed against the Space Needle since the company unilaterally ended its union contract with Local 8 in May 2012.

In January 2015, the NLRB concluded that the Space Needle had previously retaliated against two SkyCity restaurant workers and union activists, by refusing to recall Tracy McCauley and Julia Dube to work after a routine seasonal layoff. The Space Needle has appealed that ruling to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and McCauley and Dube still await reinstatement and back pay.

'The Space Needle's been trying to bust our union for years,' said shop steward and restaurant server Lou Christensen. 'Fernando's victory shows that we are stronger than ever and that the Needle is realizing this is a fight they can't win.'

UNITE HERE Local 8 represents nearly 5,000 hospitality and food service workers in Washington and Oregon, including SkyCity restaurant employees, banquet servers, elevator operators, greeters, and other workers at the Space Needle.

In 2007, Local 8 won the first hotel contract in the country to explicitly protect Transgender workers, at Seattle's Westin Hotel. Trans-inclusive contract language is now standard in Local 8's collective bargaining agreements.

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