The Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) and UNITE HERE Local 8 have partnered to create a new Hospitality Training Program in service of current and future hospitality workers and employers in Seattle as part of the proposed Addition project for the Convention Center. On the heels of successful UNITE HERE-backed labor-management training partnerships in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Boston, the Seattle training program will provide workers from low-income communities and communities of color the training and support they need to access quality job opportunities in hotels and food service and to advance their careers in the hospitality industry.
“These types of programs are a proven model for addressing the needs of workers and employers,” said UNITE HERE Local 8 President Erik Van Rossum. “There is no shortage of jobs in the hospitality industry in Seattle. But we need to be doing a better job of connecting workers, particularly those who have some barrier to employment, to these jobs and making sure they have the support they need to be successful. I’m proud to partner with the Convention Center to start crafting a solution that promotes good hospitality jobs and empowers hospitality workers.”
There are currently over 400 food service workers employed at the existing WSCC facility through subcontractor Aramark. That number will grow to approximately 600 with the completion of the Addition project. The Convention Center Addition is expected to generate a total of 2,300 new jobs in the hospitality related fields, as well 1,600 indirect jobs.
“With this partnership, the WSCC is showing its commitment to creating an expanded convention center that truly benefits the whole community,” said Chairman Frank Finneran. “Whether it’s the 6,000 construction-related jobs, the 2,300 jobs in hospitality or the 1,600 additional, indirect jobs, we are investing in the workers who are making this expansion happen. And the Convention Center will have the long term benefit of being able to hire skilled, prepared workers through the training program.”
Seattle is currently experiencing a marked shortage of food preparation and food service workers, with demand far outpacing supply, according to recent data from the State Employment Security Department.
The Hospitality Training Program will be administered by a joint labor-management partnership to tailor programming to meet the needs of workers and employers. Program offerings will eventually include not only job skills, but other identified needs including ESL, U.S. Citizenship training, Know Your Rights for Seattle Labor Standards, computer classes, financial literacy, and other programming that advances the overall economic security of hospitality workers and their families.
Through its partnership with UNITE HERE, the WSCC will provide seed funding for the Hospitality Training Program, with ongoing funding to come from employers in the Seattle region as well as government and nonprofit sources.
Aramark employees at the WSCC are represented by UNITE HERE Local 8 and recently ratified a new collective bargaining agreement.