SEATTLE, Wash.—A Washington state appeals court on Dec. 24 struck down a Seattle ordinance establishing protections for hotel workers, on the grounds that the ballot initiative that enacted it covered more than one subject.
The three-judge panel overturned a King County judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit by three hotel trade groups challenging the initiative. Seattle Initiative 124, which won 77% of the vote in 2016, required hotels to pay for workers’ health insurance, keep them on if ownership changes, limit cleaners’ workload, provide panic buttons to warn of assaults, and keep lists of guests accused of assaulting or sexually harassing workers. “Did 1-124 receive overwhelming support because almost 80 percent of Seattle voters supported all the provisions? Or did a majority of the voters want to provide better health care to these workers and were willing to accept the guest registry provisions as a necessary evil?” the judges wrote. “We couldn’t disagree more strongly with the Court of Appeals decision and will be working with the city to ensure that the will of Seattle voters is upheld and the needs of Seattle hotel workers are met,” UNITE HERE Local 8 spokesperson Abby Lawlor told the Seattle Times.