Space Needle: Fly the Rainbow Flag and Respect Your Workers

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Space Needle: Fly the Rainbow Flag and Respect Your Workers

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Help us launch this national petition for economic justice and LGBTQ pride!! Fly the Rainbow flag and respect your workers! Please sign the petition and share it!
Seattle is known as a progressive, culturally rich Northwest city and the Space Needle, the symbol of our community, should represent these values. We have the second largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the country, as well as a rich history of immigrant cultures from around the world.  LGBTQ individuals have enjoyed civil rights in Seattle since the 1970‘s and in 2012, Washington residents voted to pass Marriage Equality. It is time that the symbol of Seattle reflects the values of its citizens by flying the Rainbow Flag yearly during Pride month, and show fairness to the folks working underneath the flag by committing to a fair union contract that upholds their human dignity in all its forms.

The Space Needle Corporation flew the flag in 2010. In 2011, they flew the flag after requiring the LGBTQ community to raise $50,000 for 4 LGBTQ organizations. In 2012, during the drive for marriage equality, the Space Needle refused to fly the Rainbow flag.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,queer (LGBTQ) and immigrant individuals make up a significant percentage of the hospitality industry workforce in the greater Seattle area. Workers at the Space Needle have gone for two years without a contract and are currently seeking guarantees for fair working conditions, including living wages, health care benefits, and job security.  Our communities and members often patronize the Space Needle and surrounding businesses at the Seattle Center. Supporting the service employees at the Space Needle, a significant portion being from the LGBTQ and immigrant communities, will raise the bar for all workers in the Seattle hospitality industry.

The Pride flag stands for justice and human dignity for LGBTQ individuals (both immigrant and non-immigrant). The workers underneath the flag deserve justice and a fair contract. Flying the flag and settling a fair contract CAN happen by the owners of the Space Needle. The Rainbow flag, if flown on top of the Space Needle, will represent pride, justice and human dignity when justice for the employees underneath the flag is also granted.

Some Background:

Ten LGBTQ organizations banded together urging the Space Needle Corporation to fly the Rainbow flag, annually, during the month of Pride and to settle a fair contract. The Seattle LGBT Commission and LGBTQ Allyship met with Ron Sevart, CEO, and Jeff Wright, owner, asking them to support the two requests, but the Space Needle remained non-committal. Currently, the LGBTQ  and immigrant rights communities have come together in collaboration to urge the Space Needle to do the right thing.

To:
Ron Sevart, CEO, Space Needle Corporation
Dave Mandapat, Marketing Director, Space Needle Corporation
It’s time our Emerald City’s symbol reflects the values of its citizens by flying the Rainbow flag yearly during Pride month. In addition, as you may know, LGBTQ and immigrant employees play a crucial role in Seattle’s economy from working in restaurants and hotels to designing software and local art. Our communities and members often patronize the Space Needle and surrounding businesses at the Seattle Center. Please support your employees by settling a fair contract and flying the Rainbow flag during the month of Pride.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

 

LGBTQ Community Comes OUT in support for Space Needle Workers and Flying the Rainbow Flag during Pride

LGBTQ Community takes Pride in workers’ rights under the Pride flag at the Space Needle

April 16th, Tuesday, Seattle, WA: Ten lesbian, gay, bisexual, trangender and queer (LGBTQ) organizations have banded together to urge the Space Needle Corporation to fly the Rainbow flag, annually, during the month of Pride and to settle a fair contract soon that includes living wages, continued benefits, job security and strong anti-discrimination language for sexual orientation and gender identity. The sponsoring organizations are: LGBTQ Allyship, PrideFest, Entre Hermanos, Ingersoll Gender Center, The NW LGBT Senior Care Providers Network, Pride At Work AFL-CIO, Social Outreach Seattle, The Seattle Lesbian, Trans Lives Matter and Gender Justice League representing tens of thousands of LGBTQ and allied individuals. The Seattle LGBT Commission sent letters to the Seattle City Council and Mayor McGinn recommending the Mayor and City Council support these two requests. The Space Needle Corporation has not yet agreed to either request.

Rainbow Flag Space NeedleDSC_0358DSC_0340

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons make up a significant percentage of the hospitality industry workforce in the greater Seattle area. Workers at the Space Needle have gone for two years without a contract and are currently seeking a contract that guarantees fair working conditions, including living wages, health care benefits, and job security. LGBTQ communities in Seattle and around the country  experience higher rates of being uninsured and unemployed than the national average. Advocating for living wages and access to affordable health care in the hospitality industry directly impacts LGBTQ communities.

The Space Needle Corporation flew the flag in 2010. In 2011, they flew the flag after compelling the LGBTQ community to raise $50,000 for 4 LGBTQ organizations. In 2012, during the drive for marriage equality, the Space Needle refused to fly the Rainbow flag.

Seattle has the second largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the country. LGBTQ individuals have enjoyed civil rights in Seattle since the 1970‘s and recently won marriage equality. It is time that the symbol of Seattle reflects the values of its citizens by flying the Rainbow Flag yearly during Pride month, and show fairness to the workers underneath the flag by committing to a fair union contract that upholds their human dignity in all its forms.
LGBTQ Allyship is a social and economic organization in the Puget Sound area. We work on access to affordable health care, economic justice and eliminating youth homelessness in the LGBTQ community through education, advocacy, research and community organizing. For more information go to LGBTQAllyship.org.
Photo credit: Di Yin

Why is this a LGBTQ issue?

Nationally LGBTQ individuals experience higher rates of poverty and being uninsured than the broader community, especially people of color, women, immigrants and transgender individuals. Locally, through LGBTQ Allyship’s 2012 Community Survey, 30% of participants lack health care insurance and 75% live on a tight budget. LGBTQ individuals represent a significant percentage of employees in the hospitality industry. Supporting access to living wages and health care benefits in the hospitality industry raises the bar for many low-wage LGBTQ workers and directly addresses economic disparity in the LGBTQ community.

How are these two issues connected?

The Pride flag stands for justice and human dignity for LGBTQ individuals. The workers underneath the flag deserve justice and a fair contract. Flying the flag and settling a fair contract CAN happen by the owners of the Space Needle. The Rainbow flag, if flown on top of the Space Needle, will represent pride, justice and human dignity when justice for the employees underneath the flag is also granted.

Why is the flag important?

The Rainbow flag represents pride, visibility, safety, justice and human dignity for the LGBTQ community. The Space Needle is the icon of Seattle, a city that shares progressive values and has supported LGBTQ civil rights since the 1970’s. For the last several years Seattle Pride has been celebrated at the Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle. It’s time the Space Needle represent the values of our city by flying the Rainbow flag during Pride as well as treat the workers under the flag with respect.

What are the workers fighting for?

The Space Needle employees have enjoyed living wages, health care and retirement benefits, and non-discrimination protection around sexual orientation and gender identity.  Most employees stay at the Space Needle for an average of 5 years comfortably able to raise their families through their employment. Job security is a top priority. In February of 2012, the employees at the Space Needle voted down their contract because it did not include job security. Without job security there is no guarantee the Space Needle employees will continue to have access to living wage jobs.

Why is the LGBTQ community getting involved in a labor dispute?

 LGBTQ community organizations are not negotiating for or between management and the employees. We will support whatever Space Needle management and workers agree upon. We are in support of living wages, health care benefits and job security. These are standards important to the LGBTQ community and hope that the hospitality industry rises to these basic standards.

Why won’t the Space Needle fly the Pride flag?

The Space Needle flew the flag in 2011 and 2012. We know the Wright family has flown other flags annually. We don’t know why they won’t annually fly the Pride flag.

Why won’t the Space Needle settle a fair contract?

Space Needle employees have enjoyed living wages and continued benefits for many years. Employees can raise their families from their employment at the Space Needle and the average length of employment at the Space Needle is 5 years. Space Needle employees are invested in job security – not outsourcing their jobs. It is unclear why Space Needle management will not grant job security to workers.

When did this Campaign start?

On March 24th 8 LGBTQ organizations sent letters to Ron Severt, the CEO of the Space Needle, asking Mr. Sevart to support settling a fair contract for his LGBTQ workers (and all his workers) and fly the Rainbow flag annually for Pride. The original 8 organizations were: LGBTQ Allyship, Equal Rights Washington, Entre Hermanos, SAGE, Ingersoll Gender Center, Pride At Work AFL-CIO, PrideFest, and Seattle LGBT Commission. This effort is being led by LGBTQ Allyship, a social and economic justice organization in the Puget Sound area.

What has been done so far?

On March 26th, Allyship, organized a delegation of the 8 original LGBTQ organizations (Social Outreach Seattle also joined the delegation), to speak with Ron Sevart, CEO, at the Space Needle corporate office regarding our two requests. A dozen representatives from the LGBTQ community attended. The LGBTQ contingent spoke to Dave Mandaput, the Space Needle’s Marketing Director and delivered Rainbow flags with our community letters.

Ron Severt emailed a letter to the Seattle LGBT Commission requesting a meeting. On April 3rd, Council Member Tom Rasmussen facilitated a meeting between the Commission, LGBTQ Allyship, Ron Severt, Jeff Wright the Board Chair and owner of the Space Needle and their lobbyist/public affairs consultant Lynn Claudon.

Neither request was granted by the Space Needle Corporation.

LGBTQ Allyship continues to outreach to other LGBTQ organizations and community leaders around these requests.

 

Debbie Carlsen, Director


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