Breaking News
More () »

Seattle leaders considering rules to protect hotel workers

Four proposals aim to keep Seattle hotel employees safe on the job and from harassment.

Seattle City leaders are considering sweeping new regulations to protect hotel workers. The four controversial proposals look at everything from worker safety to health care costs.

The legislation requires that employees who work in guest rooms are given panic buttons and that the hotel develop policies to deal with violent and harassing conduct by guests. One of the more controversial proposals talks about developing a list of guests who will be banned from the hotel because of past behavior.

Housekeepers Lula Haile told those gathered at a city hall press conference she experienced harassment from a guest when she was cleaning. 

“He come behind me, he grab me, when he grab me hard, I fight him,” she explained.

RELATED: Hotel workers speak out on sexual harassment, support I-124

Haile said she told her supervisor who called security but the harassment didn’t stop from the guest who propositioned her for sex. Haile said she was told she could skip work when the guest was at the hotel but she eventually decided to quit.

Liza Cruz is a housekeeper at a different hotel and said the work is taking a physical toll. 

“My shoulder now, every night is worst thing,” Cruz said. 

She’s desperate for better health care for herself and her daughter.

City council members said it's these stories that triggered proposals to make numerous changes for hotel workers. Everything from panic buttons, limits to the size and number of rooms workers have to clean, to how much must be spent on their health care.

“Hotel workers have higher rates of injury than coal miners and those in building construction trades and hotel workers have three times the amount of back injuries of those of the general population,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda explained.

Hotel owners were among those at a committee hearing today. Owners of Seattle’s Hotel Nexus testified that revenues are down double-digits this year and the health care amounts represent unfair burdens, “this will be the straw that broke the camel's back.”

The Seattle Hotel Association said there are concerns over the health care costs and the proposal to ban guests. 

“Blacklisting without due process is a challenge to the civil rights that all of us hold as individuals,” said Communications Manager Jacque Coe.

Coe said the hospitality industry is committed to the safety of the workers but feels like their concerns were not heard. 

“We have been engaged in a dialog, very few of our suggestions and input have been implemented,” Coe said.

Voters approved extended protections for hotel workers in 2016 but the state appeals court threw it out because the initiative covered multiple topics. A public hearing is scheduled for this legislation on Tuesday, July 2nd at 5 p.m.