Seattle Takes A Step Toward Passing the Next Paid Sick Days Law

Aug 15, 2011

By Andrea Lindemann

Last week, the Seattle City Council took an important step in ensuring Seattle workers and their families have access to paid sick days.  In a vote of 4 yes and 1 abstaining, the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee voted to pass the paid sick days ordinance out of committee.  The full City Council is scheduled to have a final vote on the bill on September 12, 2011.

Seattle's "common ground" paid sick days ordinance is critical because 190,000 people working in Seattle do not have paid sick days.  Seventy-eight percent of accommodation and food service workers and 55 percent of retail workers have no paid sick days, and 1 in 4 grocery workers report coming to work sick because they don't have paid sick days.

The Seattle campaign engaged the business community early on, recognizing that businesses have an important voice in policies that will affect them.  This allowed the campaign to educate businesses about the facts of the law, resulting in additional business support for the law.  The discussions assuaged the concerns of several prominent small-business owners, such as Cupcake Royale's Jody Hall and The 5 Point Cafe's David Meinert, who said they were no longer skeptical of the bill.  In total, 30 small businesses have endorsed the ordinance, including about a dozen high-profile restaurant owners, including Cupcake Royale's Hall and Molly Moon Neitzel of Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream.

Find information on engaging business support for paid sick days.

Nevertheless, some of the typical opponents - such as the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Seattle Association, Seattle Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Seattle Restaurant Alliance - oppose the ordinance.  These organizations typically represent large corporate interests.  The Seattle campaign has started a Hall of Shame to identify some of these businesses who do not support a common ground standard for paid sick days. 

The strong support of the Seattle community, including that of small businesses, gives the ordinance a good chance of passing in September, making Seattle part of the wave of change rippling across the country as more and more states and cities pass paid sick days laws.

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