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Seattle City Council approves Paid Sick Days ordinance

Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata, sponsor of the Paid Sick Days ordinance, addresses supporters at a rally before Monday's vote to approve the measure.

With an 8-1 vote, the Seattle City Council passed a landmark ordinance to ensure workers in all but the city’s smallest businesses can earn paid sick days on the job — one of the strongest such policies in the nation. The Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce, comprised of more than 100 local organizations and small businesses that pushed for the measure, lauded the vote.

“We’re proud of the City Council’s vote, and we applaud Council members Nick Licata and Tim Burgess in particular for their leadership in helping pass a strong ordinance that will protect workers, safeguard public health, and support healthy businesses,” read a coalition statement following the vote.

Many local small business leaders helped craft provisions of the final ordinance, including: Makini Howell (Plum Bistro), Jody Hall (Cupcake Royale), Joe Fugere (Tutta Bella), and Dave Meinert (5 Point Cafe), Tim Baker (Linda’s, Oddfellows, King’s Hardware), and Molly Moon Neitzel (Molly Moon’s).

Reflecting broad public support for the measure, Councilmembers received thousands of emails, postcards and phone calls in favor; a recent poll of Seattle voters found 69% supported the legislation passed Monday.

Councilmembers Nick Licata (sponsor) Jean Godden (co-sponsor), Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Bruce Harrel, Mike O’Brien and Tom Rasmussen voted in favor of the ordinance; Council President Richard Conlin voted against.

Following Mayor McGinn’s expected signature in the coming weeks, Seattle will be the 3rd city in the nation with a minimum paid sick days standard, after Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. The state of Connecticut passed a paid sick days bill in June, and voters in Denver will consider a paid sick days ballot measure this fall.

A recent report by the Economic Opportunity Institute estimated that nearly 190,000 people working in Seattle do not earn paid sick days – negatively impacting business productivity, children’s academic performance, and public health.

Marilyn Watkins, author of the report and spokesperson for the Coalition, testified at Monday’s council meeting before the vote: “This ordinance will make Seattle a national leader in setting standards to help change our culture to respect and enable each one of us to take responsibility for our own health, our family’s health, and public health.”

More than 75 organizations comprise the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce, whose leadership includes Economic Opportunity Institute, MomsRising, Puget Sound Sage, UFCW 21, Legal Voice, Washington CAN, Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans, MLK Labor Council, and the Washington State Labor Council.

This report is cross-posted from the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce website.


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