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DC Expands Paid Sick Days to Tipped Workers!

January 8, 2014

With little fanfare, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on January 2 signed the law that will expand paid sick days to 20,000 tipped workers and make it possible for workers to earn the time right away, rather than first having to be on the job for a year and 1000 hours.

But without a lot of fanfare, hard work and smart organizing, this win would not have been possible.

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“After years of mobilizing and community building, D.C. has finally expanded its paid sick days law to include tipped workers,” said Jeremiah Lowery, research and policy coordinator at Restaurant Opportunities Center of Washington, DC.  ROC-DC is now helping lead the fight to expand the new minimum wage law to tipped workers as well.

“Paid sick days is both a public health and a quality of life issue,” said D.C. restaurant worker Sonia Villatoro de Baccus. “Just being a tipped employee should not require us to choose between health and making ends meet.”

Workers who earn minimum wage and lose pay when they’re being a good parent to a sick child or following doctor’s orders are actually making sub-minimum wage. Raising the compensation floor to reflect the value these workers create is imperative for their well-being, as well as for the economy overall and for public health.  A Centers for Disease Control study found that more than half of all norovirus outbreaks can be traced back to sick food service workers.

As Roger Horowitz, owner of Pleasant Pops in D.C, put it, “This policy really is a win-win for businesses and their workers. Happy employees mean happy customers and less turnover, which helps businesses’ bottom line.” Horowitz noted that Pleasant Pops always offered paid sick days and is “happy to see that all D.C. workers will be covered by this law.”

Family Values @ Work applauds the Paid Sick Days for All coalition for the excellent work that brought this new law into being. The groups involved have shown it’s possible to expand an existing paid sick days law where necessary to make sure it applies to all workers. They joined forces with the minimum wage coalition to win on both fronts, and are going to continue to fight to ensure that the laws are fully and properly implemented and enforced.

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