CLASP Interview with Metropolis Coffee

Tony DreyfussIn October 2016, CLASP spoke with Tony Dreyfuss, co-founder of Metropolis Coffee Company in Chicago. Dreyfuss supported the campaign that helped pass Chicago’s paid sick days ordinance.

CLASP: Why do you think it’s important to have public policies requiring all employers to provide paid sick days, instead of leaving it up to individual employers?

Dreyfuss: I just think it’s the right thing to do. I think everybody has the right to be home when they’re sick or when they’re caring for someone who’s sick. I work in the service industry. Paid sick days are a safety issue and a public health issue. So many of my colleagues, including myself, have worked while we’ve been sick, exposing people to whatever awful virus we had at the moment. It’s for safety and also just basic humanity.

CLASP: What would you say to those employers who contend that any government action, like a paid sick days minimum standard or any other labor standard, is inherently a bad action?

Dreyfuss: I would say that their view is short-sighted. We’re very fortunate at Metropolis; we keep employees for a very long time. If paid sick days are employer-by-employer, then employees are going to look for employers with the best possible benefits packages. So if you don’t offer paid sick days, you’re really missing out on longevity from your labor force. Turnover is very expensive; it’s very painful. It’s not good for the workplace. You can lower turnover by having policies like this, and if everyone has this policy, then hopefully we’ll all have employees that last a good long time at our companies.

CLASP: Do you have any last thoughts on paid sick days that you’d like to add?

Dreyfuss: I think it doesn’t go far enough! I think it should be PTO—combined sick time and vacation time—not just sick time off. Everyone needs to take a break from time to time, for any of a million reasons. And I think we have a lot to learn from countries that are more advanced than we are when it comes to employment practices like this.