This morning, the City Council voted out of committee four bills, creating new protections for hotel workers, which have been in the works for several months. Once voted into law, it will replace the embattled Initiative 124.
Last Thursday the Council’s Workers’ Rights committee finished amending three of the four hotel workers’ protection bills, co-sponsored by Council members Mosqueda and Gonzalez to replace Initiative 124.
(update 9/9: a couple of corrections below based upon feedback from Council staff. My apologies; several of the amendments weren’t published in advance of the meeting so it was challenging to follow along)
Two of the four bills that Council member Teresa Mosqueda is sponsoring to extend additional protections and rights to hotel workers saw lengthy discussions last Friday, as well as significant amendments adopted that address some of the most pointed criticisms of the bills.
This evening the City Council held a public hearing on four bills that Council members Mosqueda and Gonzalez have introduced as a replacement for Initiative 124. As expected, hotel workers and labor representatives showed up to urge the Council to pass the ordinances. But hotel managers and other small business owners also showed up in numbers to state their opposition to some of the provisions in the bills – particularly the health insurance mandate.
After several hearings in which the Council members took input from both hotel employees and employers, this week Council members Mosqueda and Gonzalez are officially introducing a modified version of Initiative 124 to run through the Council’s legislative process. Their version attempts both to circumvent the issues that led to legal challenges to I-124, as well as to fix some of the most problematic aspects of the voter initiative.
As of today, Initiative 124, which was approved by Seattle voters in November 2016, is nearly dead after the State Court of Appeals invalidated it for impermissibly containing multiple, unrelated subjects. But Council members Teresa Mosqueda and Debora Juarez, along with some of their colleagues, are about to take a look at passing at least parts of it into law the old-fashioned way — and fixing some of its most glaring flaws in the process.
Last month ERIC, an industry association, sued the City of Seattle over a portion of Initiative 124 that requires companies to either provide gold-level healthcare to hotel workers or compensate them accordingly. Yesterday, the City of Seattle and ERIC filed with the court an agreement that the city would not attempt to enforce that provision of I-124 until January in exchange for an extension of time to file its legal brief in defense of the ordinance.