Leaders of Unite Here 8, a local hospitality workers union may have finally reached an agreement with the private owners of the Space Needle after a five year labor dispute.
The private company that owns and operates the Space Needle has been exploring major changes over the past several years, including installing double-decker elevator cabs and a glass floor in the restaurant, reports PSBJ. Union workers became concerned that their jobs would become insecure during the construction of these projects.
With the pending agreement, members won’t have to worry about construction length impacting their rights to return to their jobs, Unite Here Local 8 President Erik Van Rossum told PSBJ.
The Space Needle attracts 1.3 million visitors a year. The SkyCity restaurant at the top of the Needle is the highest grossing restaurant in the State of Washington and the 47th highest grossing restaurant in the United States.
Despite the success of the city landmark, the owners of the Space Needle have come under scrutiny several times over the years for their unfair treatment of workers. In 2015, Federal mediators were brought in and the National Labor Relations Board found the Space Needle violated labor laws by discouraging workers from participating in the union after their union contract expired in 2011.
The NLRB also told the company to return two employees to work with back pay, and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back dues that the company owed to Unite Here Local 8.
Space Needle Chairman of the Board Jeff Wright said in a statement to PSBJ that the Space Needle provides “one of the strongest wage and benefits packages in the tourism and hospitality industry.”
The Space Needle is still deciding whether the new construction projects are feasible. Terms of the job security agreement were not disclosed.