Hotel developer Richard Hedreen is blaming King County Executive Dow Constantine and members of the county council for prompting the National Association of Counties’ venue change away from his hotel.
The National Association of Counties, saying it wants to avoid taking sides in the long-running labor dispute between hotel developer Richard Hedreen and a hotel workers’ union, has moved its upcoming conference in Seattle from Hedreen’s Hyatt at Olive 8 to The Westin.
“We decided to move the meeting because we didn’t want to have any distractions from our focus,” said Brian Namey, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based association.
The three-day program, which begins Sept. 30, is expected to draw about 75 attendees from large urban counties across the nation.
Hedreen, whose firm R.C. Hedreen Co. owns the Hyatt, accused King County Executive Dow Constantine and members of the county council of orchestrating the group’s switch to support the union’s two-year-long boycott of Hedreen hotels and delay his plans for the Pacific Northwest’s largest hotel.
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“We were advised by the Executive Director of NACO that the cancellation resulted from King County’s refusal to support, attend or fund the program of speakers,” Hedreen wrote this week in a letter to Constantine. Hedreen asserted that the late switch will cost King County $37,904 in contract cancellation fees.
Namey, however, said the association is responsible for the decision and will pay the cancellation fees itself.
While the association said it isn’t taking sides in the labor dispute, King County officials appear to be doing so. Constantine “is honoring the boycott at the Hyatt at Olive 8,” said spokesman Frank Abe. “The executive was among those who raised concerns about the venue.”
UNITE HERE Local 8, which represents hospitality workers in Washington and Oregon, has sought to unionize R.C. Hedreen’s two Hyatt hotels in Seattle as well as its future mega-hotel on a block that previously housed the Greyhound bus station.
Earlier this month, Local 8 filed a petition with King County Superior Court challenging a decision by Seattle’s hearing examiner that supported the city’s issuing Hedreen a permit for the new hotel.
Hedreen officials say they plan to start demolition next week, barring an injunction from the court.
Local 8’s Abby Lawlor said the union is “really glad that NACO has chosen to hold their event at a union hotel.”