The Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Lodging Association are merging, saying the move will allow them to operate more effectively and to have a stronger voice on issues such as minimum wage and workplace benefits.
The Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Lodging Association are merging, saying the move will allow them to operate more effectively and to have more influence on issues such as minimum wage and workplace benefits.
The industry support and lobbying groups, both founded in the 1920s, aim to have the new organization — which has not yet been named — operational by Oct. 1.
The hospitality industry faces “increasing numbers of legislative challenges… such as higher wages, mandated benefits, taxation of the industry and competition from other sectors,” said Stan Bowman, president and CEO of the Washington Lodging Association. “Combining resources provides a stronger organization for our members and a stronger voice.”
The two organizations have increasingly worked together over past the past five years, and have talked about possibly merging over the last three.
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They have separately offered similar services, such as keeping members abreast on current laws regarding their industry.
“We can do better by working together,” said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association.
The two groups have worked together on issues such as tourism promotion and workplace safety, he said.
Both have been vocal in recent years in opposition to proposals to raise Seattle’s minimum wage. Since the law went into effect, they’ve focused on making sure members know the law’s requirements. But they’re also supportive of a lawsuit filed by the International Franchise Association and several local franchisees who accuse the city of discriminating against local franchisees.
The lodging association, founded in 1920, has 515 members, including lodging properties and corporate members.
The restaurant association, founded in 1929, has about 5,700 member companies including restaurants and hospitality businesses such as espresso stands and golf courses.
The merged association will initially be based in Olympia and will evaluate whether to open offices in other cities, Anton said.