Airbnb's ongoing bid for respectability appears to be taking another step forward, with The Washington Post reporting today that the home-renting company has approached a major international union with the hopes of forming a partnership, and, in the process, pave the way for future union support — something that Airbnb has decidedly lacked in the past.

The Post reports on documents it obtained that lay out Airbnb's plan, although apparently not in much detail. Airbnb reached out to the Services Employees International Union, and has offered to endorse the union's "Fight for $15" — an effort to guarantee a minimum $15 hourly wage for its members. In addition, the paper notes, Airbnb will "encourage vendors who provide services to homeowners on the Airbnb platform to pay their staff at least $15 per hour" while simultaneously "[directing] Airbnb hosts to cleaners that have been given a seal of approval from SEIU."

SFist reached out to Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty in an attempt to clarify what form, exactly, the "endorsement" will take and how the company intends to "encourage" its vendors. For example, will there be financial incentives (or penalties)? Unfortunately, Nulty declined to comment on the specifics, and instead issued a standard company statement.

"As our community continues to grow, we want to find ways to further extend the economic benefits of home sharing to as many people as possible," he wrote in an email. "To that end, we have been engaged in conversations with organizations and community leaders about how to best help working families find solutions to economic inequality, including creating specific ways we could leverage the Airbnb platform to help create quality union jobs that pay a livable wage."

Airbnb ran into union opposition last year while fighting Proposition F, a law that would have imposed new restrictions on short-term rentals in Airbnb's hometown of San Francisco. At the time, SF Weekly noted that the local hotel workers' union Unite Here Local 2 was one of the main supporters of Prop F (the proposition lost, in no small part thanks to the $8 million Airbnb spent to defeat it). With SEIU on their side going forward, Airbnb would have a powerful ally in labor.

SEIU spokesperson Sahar Wali confirmed to the Post that the union is in talks with Airbnb, although she stressed that at this time nothing is confirmed. "SEIU has and always will support all finding new ways to build power for working people to help them improve their lives," she explained. "As part of this commitment, we actively and regularly engage in conversations with companies who are committed to doing right by their workforce by paying better wages and giving them a voice at work through their union. Airbnb is one such company, however, there is no formal relationship or agreement between SEIU and Airbnb."

As Airbnb is known for having trouble respecting formal relationships, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of these talks long term. Regardless, the new strategy of working with labor appears to mark a shift for the company, and this likely won't be the last time we hear about it.

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