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Paid sick days for restaurant workers in Tacoma just make sense

October 6, 2010

A column picked up in the Seattle Times — first printed in the Kansas City Star — points out that many workers in the food service industry are on the job even when they are sick.

The article points to a report from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, titled “Serving While Sick“, which pinpoints two reasons workers don’t stay home when sick: nearly 9 in 10 restaurant said they lacked paid sick days, and more than 6 in 10 said they had no health insurance.

This isn’t just a problem in Kansas City. Remember Megan, the server at a Tacoma restaurant who was forced to work sick — and later fired after a customer called the health department? A minimum paid sick days standard for all workers would help protect public health — ensuring more people don’t get sick during flu season, or exacerbate a pandemic like swine flu.

But paid sick day’s don’t just help keep customers healthy and happy, they’re also good for the bottom line. In San Francisco, which passed a paid sick days law in 2007, the job market in restaurants and bars has been stronger than in the state of California as a whole in every year since the sick days law passed. Even Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce (which opposed the law), told The Wall Street Journal, “[W]e really have not heard much about it being a major issue for a lot of businesses.”

The Coalition for a Healthy Tacoma is working with the Tacoma City Council to enact a city ordinance to put our paid sick days plan into action. Learn more about us in the links above, and add your voice to our cause!

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