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    Council Adopts First-of-its-Kind Legislation to Give Drivers a Voice on the Job

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12/14/2015

    Council Adopts First-of-its-Kind Legislation
    to Give Drivers a Voice on the Job

    SEATTLE – City Council unanimously adopted legislation today that will give eligible drivers at taxi, for-hire, and transportation network companies (“TNCs”, e.g., Uber, Lyft) a voice on the job and the opportunity to negotiate for improved working conditions at their companies.  The bill, co-sponsored by Councilmember Mike O’Brien and Councilmember Nick Licata, will create a process whereby a majority of independently contracted drivers working for the same company could choose to join a Driver Representative Organization to negotiate the pay rates and conditions of their employment.

    “We’ve heard from Seattle drivers making sub-minimum wage, and companies like Uber have turned a deaf ear to their concerns. This bill was only introduced out of necessity after witnessing how little power drivers themselves had in working for a living wage,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “This is groundbreaking legislation and I am proud Seattle is continuing to lead the nation in advancing labor standards for our workers.”

    These drivers are considered independent contractors and, as such, are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act that provides for collective bargaining between employers and unions representing employees. Independent contractors are also excluded from a host of labor standards other workers have, such as minimum wage and hour laws, health and safety standards on the job, or reimbursements for workplace related costs. Over the past few years, Seattle has implemented ordinances to raise local labor standards that these drivers are exempt from, including the new minimum wage, paid sick and safe leave, wage theft, and fair chance employment. This legislation gives drivers a chance to address these issues in their industry.

    In addition to setting the framework which provides a majority of drivers the option to join a Driver Representative organization, the legislation also establishes penalties for failure to comply with the new framework, including interest arbitration and the possibility of fines.

    For more information on the legislation, refer to this page on Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s website: http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/VoiceForDrivers/.

    # # #

    Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast live on Seattle Channel 21, HD Channels 321 Comcast, 721 Wave and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.

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    Councilmember Licata: City Budget Increases Funding for Homeless in Response to Federal Cutbacks

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/23/2015

    Councilmember Licata: City Budget Increases Funding for Homeless in Response to Federal Cutbacks

    Federal Response Needed for Emergency

    SEATTLECouncilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Budget Committee, released the following statement after the Budget Committee sent a 2016 Budget to the Full Council:

    “As my 18 years in office come to an end, I’ve reflected on how funding for human services has changed in Seattle.  I compared the first budget I voted for in 1999 to the 2016 budget approved by the Budget Committee today. Here’s what I found:

    • Federal human services grants to Seattle have decreased from $46.5 million to $37.9 million, a decrease of 43%, adjusted for inflation
    • Federal grants have shrunk from 62% to 26% of the City’s Human Services budget, a 58% decrease
    • The City’s General Fund contribution to the Human Services budget has more than doubled, from 25% to 55%
    • The percent of the City’s General Fund dedicated to human services has doubled, from 3.5% to 7%.

    “This increasing reliance on the city’s general fund is a direct result of federal neglect.

    “These figures place in stark relief the impact of years of the federal government’s retreat. The needs have not gone away–they have simply been shifted onto cities. Mayor Murray’s declaration of a homeless emergency, and the emergency declared in Portland, have been building for years. Cities cannot solve this emergency alone: federal assistance is needed.

    “Homelessness in Seattle is at a crisis level. The Council’s  addition of $2.3 million in one-time funding, not only to expand shelter beds to get people off the street, but to fund new beds, extend day center services and outreach services to vulnerable homeless adults, support authorized encampments, and childcare for homeless children — come in appropriations beyond the $5 million in one-time funds announced earlier this month. 

    “I believe that when more people have a chance to reach their full potential and enough economic security to make investments in their future, the benefits ripple throughout communities. The budget the Budget Committee approved today invests in those basic needs such as safety, stability and health. However, cities cannot do this alone; we need the federal government to contribute.”

    Full Council will vote on the Budget Committee’s recommendations this afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

    # # #

    Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast live on Seattle Channel 21, HD Channels 321 Comcast, 721 Wave and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Council to Vote on Dedicating $2.3M to Combat Homeless Crisis

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/16/2015

    Council to Vote on Dedicating $2.3M to Combat Homeless Crisis

    SEATTLE – Council’s Budget Committee chair Nick Licata issued the following statement in advance of today’s 10:00 a.m. meeting, during which time the 9-member Committee will consider amending the proposed 2016 budget Mayor Murray delivered on September 28:

    “Homelessness in Seattle is at a crisis level. The Council and Mayor agree we have an emergency. I believe additional financial investment to address the homelessness emergency is needed. Later this morning, Council will vote to add $2.3 million in one-time funding for new and expanded shelter beds to get people off the street, extend day center services and outreach services to vulnerable homeless adults, support authorized encampments, and child care for homeless children. This is in addition to the $5 million in one-time funds approved earlier this month.

    “In an effort to meet the demands of the people we were elected to represent, we must both balance the budget and address the urgent and persistent needs of the homeless in our city. As a result of a positive update to the economic revenue forecast, which we recently received, and good work by Council Central Staff who found productive ways to use restricted funds, we are able to avoid diverting funds from the City’s ‘Rainy Day Fund’.”

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    Study Finds Dismal Enforcement of Paid Sick Leave, Licata Urges Remedies

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/29/2015

    Study Finds Dismal Enforcement of Paid Sick Leave, Licata Urges Remedies

    SEATTLE – A study released today from the Restaurant Opportunity Center has found that, as relates to paid sick and safe leave benefits, only 37.4% of restaurant workers in Seattle are aware of the law and 73.5% report that they don’t have access to paid sick leave. Further, in violation of wage theft laws, 20.5% of restaurant workers in the Seattle area report having worked off the clock without pay in the past year and 38.8% report that they are not paid 1.5 times the normal wage when they work overtime in violation of federal laws.

    Councilmember Nick Licata reviewed the report findings, and believes that the Council should address:

    1. Better enforcement, including:
      1. company-wide investigations without requiring complaints
      2. a private right of action
      3. remedies that act as a greater deterrence
    1. Improved outreach to workers about their rights, including:
      1. retaliation protection
      2. provisions to encourage reporting of violations such as non-immigrant status visa certification for employees that report wage theft

     

    In late 2014, the Council requested that the Executive deliver recommendations in April, 2015 for better enforcement of Seattle’s historic labor laws. Delivery of the recommendations was postponed until July, 2015 with agreement with the Council.  The Council has yet to receive recommendations from the Executive.

    Councilmember Nick Licata said, “I appreciate the desire of the Mayor to negotiate with business and employee interests to come to agreement on how to move forward but if we believe that our labor laws are only as good as their enforcement at some point, we have to propose legislation and let the legislative process run its course.”

    # # #

    Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast and Webcast live on Seattle Channel 21 and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Study Finds Dismal Enforcement of Paid Sick Leave, Licata Urges Remedies

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/29/2015

    Study Finds Dismal Enforcement of Paid Sick Leave, Licata Urges Remedies

    SEATTLE – A study released today from the Restaurant Opportunity Center has found that, as relates to paid sick and safe leave benefits, only 37.4% of restaurant workers in Seattle are aware of the law and 73.5% report that they don’t have access to paid sick leave. Further, in violation of wage theft laws, 20.5% of restaurant workers in the Seattle area report having worked off the clock without pay in the past year and 38.8% report that they are not paid 1.5 times the normal wage when they work overtime in violation of federal laws.

    Councilmember Nick Licata reviewed the report findings, and believes that the Council should address:

    1. Better enforcement, including:
      1. company-wide investigations without requiring complaints
      2. a private right of action
      3. remedies that act as a greater deterrence
    1. Improved outreach to workers about their rights, including:
      1. retaliation protection
      2. provisions to encourage reporting of violations such as non-immigrant status visa certification for employees that report wage theft

     

    In late 2014, the Council requested that the Executive deliver recommendations in April, 2015 for better enforcement of Seattle’s historic labor laws. Delivery of the recommendations was postponed until July, 2015 with agreement with the Council.  The Council has yet to receive recommendations from the Executive.

    Councilmember Nick Licata said, “I appreciate the desire of the Mayor to negotiate with business and employee interests to come to agreement on how to move forward but if we believe that our labor laws are only as good as their enforcement at some point, we have to propose legislation and let the legislative process run its course.”

    # # #

    Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast and Webcast live on Seattle Channel 21 and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Councilmember Licata Calls for Fix to Ethics Code in Response to Developer Shakedown

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/20/2015

    Councilmember Licata Calls for Fix to Ethics Code in Response to Developer Shakedown

    SEATTLECouncilmember Nick Licata delivered a letter to the Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission (SEEC) today, asking that the independent body develop legislation intended to sanction people or organizations that attempt to bargain with candidates by threatening to use independent expenditures in local elections.  The request comes in response to a recent Seattle Times report on allegations that a then-employee of Triad Development Group approached a candidate running for local office and offered to help make a $200,000 independent expenditure “go away,” in exchange for settling a lawsuit.

    Licata asked the SEEC to develop a solution to ensure any future similar independent expenditure coordination is clearly illegal. While Seattle has laws governing independent expenditures, there don’t appear to be laws governing potential independent expenditures.

    “Public trust is undermined by the lack of a clear, unambiguous prohibition in the Seattle Ethics and Elections Code of these activities that could be construed as unethical coercion at best, extortion at worst. Clear lines must be established,” wrote Councilmember Licata in his letter. He added, “Even an appearance of potential corruption deeply damages our civic life.”

    The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission is an independent committee of seven citizen volunteers. The Commission is responsible for interpreting and applying the Seattle Ethics, Elections, Election Pamphlet, and Whistleblower Protection Codes and the City’s Lobbying Regulations.

    # # #

    Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast and Webcast live on Seattle Channel 21 and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Councilmembers and Community Organizers to Join Tenants in Slumlord Protest

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/6/2015

    Councilmembers and Community Organizers to Join Tenants in Slumlord Protest

    SEATTLE – Seattle City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien have joined with tenants and advocacy groups to call a protest against unlivable conditions and economic eviction at the hands of notorious Seattle slumlord, Carl Haglund.

    Tenants will be joined Wednesday morning by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, the Tenants Union of Washington State, the Low Income Housing Institute, LGBTQ Allyship, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction, the Seattle King County NAACP, the Transit Riders Union, and other housing justice activists.

    The appalling conditions faced by tenants of Haglund’s Columbia City Condos at 6511 Rainier Ave S, and their courageous resistance, have been recently featured by several news outlets, detailing infestations of rats and roaches, mold, broken heaters and damaged electrical systems.

    “Big Business, real-estate and landlord lobbyists argue that policies like rent control encourage slumlords. Haglund is a perfect example of how the opposite is true: Slumlords thrive in unregulated markets,” said Councilmember Sawant.

    WHAT:
    Rally to protest slumlord Carl Haglund’s treatment of tenants and the poor quality of living conditions at his properties

    WHERE:
    Carl Haglund’s Columbia City Condos Office
    3818 S Edmunds St. (Corner of Rainier and Edmunds)
    Seattle, WA 98118

    WHEN:
    Wednesday, October 7
    8:00AM

    WHO:
    Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant
    King County Councilmember Larry Gossett
    Tenants of 6511 Rainier Ave. S and other buildings owned by Carl Haglund
    Tenants Union of Washington State
    Low Income Housing Institute
    LGBTQ Allyship
    Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action
    Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction
    Seattle King County NAACP
    Transit Riders Union
    Local housing justice advocates

    # # #

    Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast and Webcast live on Seattle Channel 21 and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Council Adopts Bill Protecting Tenants from Economic Eviction

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/5/2015

    Council Adopts Bill Protecting Tenants from Economic Eviction

    SEATTLE – Council unanimously adopted a bill today to prevent landlords from drastically raising rents on low-income tenants for the purpose of evicting them without providing relocation assistance.  Currently, if a building is to be torn down or renovated, landlords must give tenants who have to move 90 days notice and pay $3,255 in Tenant Relocation Assistance to low-income households. Recently, there have been reports of low-income tenants’ rents doubling so they’ll voluntarily vacate, all so landlords can avoid paying the required relocation assistance.

    The bill Council adopted today prohibits rent increases for the purpose of avoiding the required Tenant Relocation Assistance process. If a landlord increases rent by 20 percent or more, which results in a tenant vacating a unit within 90 days, then applies for a permit to substantially rehabilitate the unit within 6 months, the owner can have their building permit denied until the owner pays the penalties. Penalties are $1,000 per day for each day from the date the violation began.

    “Landlords have been forcing low-income people from their homes without providing the time or resources necessary to help them relocate,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, the legislation’s sponsor. “Today we closed a loophole, but there’s still so much more to do.”

    Co-sponsor, Councilmember Nick Licata, said, “Each year tenants are deprived of critical relocation assistance following a massive rent hike due to state law allowing rent increases of any size.  This bill is important to stop what, over the years, an increasing number of property owners have learned they can do as a regular business practice.”

    Liz Etta, Executive Director of the Tenants Union of Washington said, “This is a tremendous win for tenants in the city. Every day, we hear from renters who are forced to leave their homes over sky high rent increases. We are thankful to the City Council for this necessary protection, and for all they have done to keep Seattle equitable and affordable.”

    If a tenant believes their rent has been raised for the purpose of eviction to avoid Tenant Relocation Assistance regulations, they should register a complaint with the Department of Planning and Development here: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/codesrules/makeacomplaint/default.htm

    # # #

    Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast live on Seattle Channel 21, HD Channels 321 Comcast, 721 Wave and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Murray, Councilmembers seek increased investment in youth arts programming, cultural space preservation

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/25/2015

    Murray, Councilmembers seek increased investment in youth arts programming, cultural space preservation

    SEATTLE – Today Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess and Seattle City Council Budget Chair Nick Licata announced a proposal to increase the City’s investment in youth arts education and preservation of cultural spaces.

    “Seattle is stepping up and providing arts education in schools that have not had it in years,” said Murray. “This investment aligns new and expanding programming with my vision for a vibrant, equitable city. Every child must have the same opportunity to learn through the arts and every resident must have access to the creative economy.”

    Murray, Burgess and Licata are endorsing an increase in funding to the Office of Arts & Culture from the existing admissions tax levied on tickets at entertainment venues. The increased allocation from seventy-five percent to eighty percent of the admissions tax will add $400,000 per year for arts in the City budget. The mayor will introduce his full budget on Monday.

    “As our city grows, we must invest in the culture of Seattle that has given us our unique identity and strength,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “Seattle is the entertainment and cultural center of the Pacific Northwest. Let’s make certain we provide strong public support for this vital sector of our economy.”

    “Having requested this increase at the urging of the Seattle Arts Commission when I met with the Mayor in August of 2014, I am grateful to see him include it in his 2016 budget,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “I urge Mayor Murray to work toward raising it to one hundred percent in the following years. The pressing need for affordable cultural space, quality arts education, and the imagination working artists bring to our city will not lessen anytime soon.”

    The increase will fund expansion of The Creative Advantage and other education initiatives that support work readiness and job training through the arts. Creative Advantage brings together the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, private nonprofit organizations, and the philanthropic sector to expand the availability of arts education in the schools.

    Studies show that at-risk youth who have access to the arts in or out of school tend to have better academic results, better workplace opportunities and more civic engagement. Arts-infused learning in reading and math helps close the achievement gap between low-income children and children of color in comparison to white and more affluent students.

    The mayor’s budget will also provide additional grant funding to support retention of arts and ethnic cultural spaces in our neighborhoods. Cultural spaces ensure neighborhood livability and vibrancy, and are anchors for many communities, including immigrant and refugees.

    – 30 –

    Office of the Mayor

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    Licata Lauds City Council Passage of Resolution in Support of Lifting State Ban on Limiting Rent Increases

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/21/2015
    Licata Lauds City Council Passage of Resolution in Support of Lifting State Ban on Limiting Rent Increases
    SEATTLE – Councilmember Nick Licata issued the following statement after Council approved a resolution tha…

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