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July 10, 2019

Members of the Seattle City Council,

As you work to pass City ordinances replacing the elements of Initiative 124 that were struck down by the courts, we ask
that you take the necessary time to write good legislation that will actually benefit hotel employees as intended, be
compliant with existing state and federal law, and be implementable by employers.

Our membership is very concerned over the Council’s apparent definition of “ancillary hotel business” which includes
independent businesses that lease space from hotels, such as restaurants and retail shops. We hope that you clarify the
definition so that it does not include small businesses who have nothing to do with the operation of the hotel, but are
merely tenants. Sweeping them into the provisions of these bills would increase their costs significantly and put them at
a tremendous competitive disadvantage compared to other similar businesses who do not lease space from hotels.

We have been informed by several attorneys that the current bill on healthcare benefit provision – no matter how
differently it is worded – is still a violation of ERISA as a regulation of employee healthcare. Additionally, there are
doubts that the powers delegated to local hearing examiners by the state would include those as written regarding the
hotel guest blacklist. We have not had the time to fully examine these concerns ourselves, but it does not seem that the
City has either. Hastily written bills that get struck down by the courts will do workers no good. Councilmembers are
working on these four bills precisely because of the problematic language that came from the writers of the initiative
who are not as well versed in City code and policy as Councilmembers and central staff.

Additionally, we hope that Council has asked for input from the Small Business Advisory Council. That body was created
specifically to provide input on legislation like this that impacts small businesses. We hope that the City is following
through on its repeated commitments to involve small businesses when writing legislation that would impact them.

We urge you to use the legislative process as it is intended – to take the time and effort to thoughtfully create bills that
benefit hotel workers, and that are capable of being enacted both legally and also practically by employers. You have the
chance to correct the errors of I-124 – please give it the time it deserves to create an outcome that protects and
supports hotel workers and does not have unintended consequences like devastating small businesses simply because of
who their landlord is. The paramount goal of these four pieces of legislation is to protect workers. In that mindset, as
several Councilmembers have expressed to us before, we should also keep an eye on the health of the businesses who
employ and support them. What is good for workers should be good for business, and what is good for business should
be good for workers.

Thank you,

Louise Chernin
President & CEO

GSBA – Washington’s LGBTQ & Allied Chamber of Commerce


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