Director’s Corner: Support Sick Leave
Working people in Seattle are about to get some good news, and in times like these, that’s no small thing. On Monday, Sept. 12, months of solid organizing by the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce will result in passage of a paid sick-leave ordinance by our city council.
Astonishingly, some 190,000 workers in Seattle currently have no sick-day benefits. These include grocery, restaurant, retail and medical workers. In the food service industry, 78 percent of workers do not have this basic benefit.
Not surprisingly, people of color are more likely to work jobs that don’t offer sick days. In their endorsement of the ordinance, Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable noted that 44 percent of African American workers lack paid sick days, as do a staggering 58 percent of Latino workers.
Last August, the Paid Sick and Safe Days Ordinance passed unanimously out of committee, and some version of this will almost surely receive majority approval next week. The only question is whether the measure will pass in its more or less current version or in some more diluted form.
The measure has been championed by Councilmember Nick Licata and has the support of Councilors O’Brien, Godden and Clark. Others are undeclared, and may be waiting to consider a counter effort—led by Council President Richard Conlin—that weakens the package to meet additional business community concerns.
The proposal has already been amended to exempt businesses with fewer than five employees, delay eligibility until 180 days have passed and reduce documentation costs for employers.
Is this an extravagant measure that will place an unsustainable burden on small business? Let’s put it this way. Real Change has 12 employees and an annual budget of about $850,000. Our sick leave accrues at 2.77 hours for every 80 worked for a total of up to 12 days a year.
The proposed ordinance would set a minimal standard for businesses with 5-49 workers of one hour for every 50, and cap it out at five days. We could cut our benefits in half and still exceed the proposal’s minimal standards. Businesses with more than 250 workers but less than 1,000 would accrue sick time at one hour for every 30 worked and cap at nine days.
If we, a small nonprofit, can do this, so can anyone. The measure should pass without further dilution or delay. Please urge the city council to pass the sick-leave ordinance in its present form, and show your support by attending the rally and vote on Monday, Sept. 12. Meet on City Hall Plaza at 1:45 p.m. and then stay to watch your Seattle City Councilmembers vote. This one is for human dignity. Please take action to see that the city council does the right thing.
your employees dont get sick leave,but you ask for more donations so you can live the bourgosie and vanity plated lifestyle..to bad your newspaper sucks,they could make a liveable wage,like you from all those charitable contributions
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