Hundreds of Seattle workers prepare for layoffs

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


SEATTLE - Hundreds of Seattle workers are preparing to get pink slips as 15 waterfront businesses get ready to shut down for seawall construction.

Bob Donegan, President of Ivar’s, said he is already going over pages of checklists.

“When does the food get moved out?” he said. “When do the tables and chairs get moved out? When does access to the pier go away? Everybody on the waterfront is doing the same thing.”

Part of that is figuring out what to do about the 166 workers at Ivar’s who will lose their jobs on the waterfront, at least until next summer.

“We're doing job fairs and job placements,” Donegan, who’s acting as a spokesperson for the affected businesses, said. He estimates about 900 will lose their waterfront jobs. “Many of us know other people around town so we're trying to get them placed.”

Donegan is trying to place employees at his other locations. The parent company of Elliott’s Oyster House is doing the same. A manager at Happy Salmon told KIRO 7 it will temporarily open another site nearby and shift employees there.

But a $15 million fund from the city will also help some employees in a big way.

The Seattle Department of Transportation told KIRO 7 it estimates that total is what it will save by businesses closing down so work can be done faster.

Donegan said the money will help off-set, not cover, costs to businesses like his and help them keep certain skilled employees, like general managers, chefs, or sea captains, on the payrolls.

“If we can’t find a place to place them, they'll be reimbursed out of this fund we have from the city,” he said. “Critical employees can be reimbursed for their wages and benefits during the whole time that we're closed so that we don't lose those employees.”

Argosy Cruises will remain open during seawall construction but may be affected and will be allowed to dip into the mitigation fund if need be.

“In a sense it’s a lifeboat for us,” CEO Kevin Clark said. “If whatever we do isn't successful, as a result of the seawall, then those funds are there to make sure that we're in business and ready to go with our trained staff, our crew, July of 2015.”

Brad Tidwell, 23, isn’t fortunate enough to be a critical employee at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. He just got the job last September but now needs to job hunt again.

“Fixing up that resume right now,” he said. “That's what I’m probably going to do when I go home.”

Donegan said he plans to use the time to remodel the pier and Ivar’s. The restaurant will close the night of September 28.

The other businesses that will be closed are Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Let’s Go Sailing on Pier 54; the Chase ATM, Frankfurter/Frankly Sweets, Pioneer Jewelers, Red Robin, and Starbucks on Pier 55; the Seattle Shirt Company, Simply Seattle, Happy Salmon, and Elliott’s Oyster House/Café 56 on Pier 56; and the Crab Pot, Pirates Plunder, and the Salmon Cooker on Pier 57.