I'm Calling on the Council to Provide Paid Sick Leave for All D.C. Restaurant Workers

I'm calling on the council to extend the protection of paid sick days to all restaurant employees in the District of Columbia.

In a letter to Chairman Phil Mendelson, I have urged action to close the gap in the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008, which provides paid sick days to many D.C. employees but does not cover 80 percent of the restaurant employees in the District.

In making this request, I join with the D.C. Employment Justice Center and more than 30 coalition partners working to ensure that no District resident is forced to choose between his or her health and his or her job.

This lack of coverage has public health implications —  this is an issue not only for restaurant workers but also for restaurant patrons. As my letter to Chairman Mendelson states, almost 60 percent of workers have reported cooking, preparing, and serving food while sick, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Center. Even those few restaurant workers who are covered by the legislation are not aware of it, due to lackluster promotion and enforcement of the law.

When the council approved the legislation in 2008, the final version left out restaurant workers who receive tips and anyone who has worked for less than a year.

I'm pledging my support for this legislation. I hope it will have been introduced by the time I am sworn in as an at-large member so that. I can help Chairman Mendelson move it through the council to enactment.

I'm also calling on my fellow candidates in the April 23 special election to support this important legislation.