A post-construction rendering of the tophouse of the Space Needle
A post-construction rendering of the tophouse of the Space Needle By Olson Kundig

Following last month’s announcement that the Space Needle will undergo a multi-year, $100 million renovation—which includes an 8-9 month closure of the SkyCity restaurant—unionized Needle employees reached an agreement last night on employee “transition packages” for the temporary layoff period.

The renovation announcement raised concerns for employees, 150 of whom—mainly those employed in the SkyCity restaurant—received a “warn letter” last month detailing the impacts the renovations would have on their employment.

Space Needle restaurant staff, elevator operators and valets are unionized through Unite Here Local 8, which represents hospitality workers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Last night, union leaders reached an agreement with the Space Needle on “transition packages” following multiple collective bargaining meetings.

One of the major concerns was the looming possibility of losing healthcare benefits during the 8-9 month closure, from September to May 2018. But according to a joint statement released today, healthcare coverage will continue throughout the renovation period.

“While this package doesn’t cover everything, it does include what our members cared about most including financial assistance, extended health care benefits during the closure, the right to return to work with seniority upon reopening, and a payout of any unused vacation and sick leave,” said President of Unite Here Local 8 Erik Van Rossum in the press release.

Despite the disruption to staffing, some restaurant employees have said they understand the need to upgrade the Seattle landmark, which hasn’t been renovated since its debut during the 1962 World’s Fair.