In a move sure to shock people who follow Seattle’s ultra-liberal politics, a downtown developer will no longer have to worry about union bullying tactics. As Shift reported, developers at Seattle-based RC Hedreen Company are attempting to build a $400 million, 45-story project. The building would include a hotel with more than 1,200 rooms, the largest hotel in the city.
Activist union United Here Local 8 has attempted to disrupt the project by pressuring the company to agree, in advance, on terms that would make it easier for hotel workers to unionize. The company refused. David Thyer, president of RC Hedreen Company, explained that catering to the union’s demands would sell out “future employees who may not want to join the union.”
In order to get the union off its back, the developer decided to downscale the project to fewer guest rooms, less meeting space and, notably, no affordable housing. The original, larger project would have included 160 apartments available to one-person households that make $46,100 or less a year and two-person households that make $52,650 or less.
Even though the developer decided to downscale (which means it did not need to seek permit approval from the very union-friendly Seattle City Council), United Here Local 8 filed complaints with the City of Seattle in an attempt to disrupt the project and force the developer to the negotiating table. The union’s complaint accused the developer of “assuming the role of project advocate, apologist and process manipulator.”
Thankfully, the union’s tactic did not work. The city’s hearing examiner sided with the developer, stating that the union failed to prove its claims. KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz put the win this way,
“So this is a huge win for the developers, for business, for logic, and a big loss for a manipulative and disingenuous union trying to line their own pockets with money they didn’t earn by taking from low-income workers.”
Unfortunately, the win is bittersweet considering what the original project would have meant for affordable housing had it not been for the union.