The DC City Council passed the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act in 2008, guaranteeing that anyone working in the District can earn up to 7 days of paid sick leave. However, at the last minute, the law was severely weakened to exclude tipped restaurant workers and anyone working on their first year of the job. We believe strongly that these flaws and loopholes in the 2008 law severely limit its effectiveness, and as a result, thousands of DC residents are unnecessarily suffering. Ensuring that restaurant workers can stay home to care for themselves or their loved ones will protect families struggling to get by and keep the public healthy.
If you are a Meridian Pint or Smoke and Barrel customer or employee, share your thoughts in the "Why this is important to you" comment box!
"When it comes to the government mandating that I take care of paying my employees in their absence, whether it be from being sick or emergencies or other issues that may arise, I'm not in favor of the government mandating it." The article continued by saying, "Andrade said that even if sick leave were mandated, the hourly wage of $2.77 doesn't return much after taxes are taken out. As such, he prefers to work with his employees to let them make up lost time by working other shifts."
As customers of your establishment, we want to urge you to consider changing your position.
Meridian Pint is one of the most popular restaurants on 11th St NW in Columbia Heights. We love your sustainable food practices, locally sourced beer, and clear environmental values. We love the food, and we also love the service. But as consumers, we not only care about the quality of food and service at your restaurant, but also about how workers are being treated.
The restaurant industry is one of the lowest paying industries in the country, with 7 of the 10 lowest paying jobs concentrated in food service. When workers get sick, many of them have to face a terrible choice between earning a day’s wages and working while sick. In DC, over half of the city’s restaurant workers have reported cooking, serving, and preparing food while sick. Anecdotally, we’ve heard of workers in some of DC’s finest dining establishments working with the swine flu, pink eye, and bronchitis because they could not afford not to. This affects their health and ours. We would feel better knowing that the workers in your restaurant and in all restaurants in the city can stay home when they are sick.
Though you say that workers can make up lost time by shift swapping, this is an imperfect system, leaving workers to find their own replacement when emergency strikes. Imagine sitting in a hospital with a sick child. Rather than caring for her, you have to call around to your colleagues to find someone to cover for you or else you could be fired. For thousands of workers in DC, this situation is all too real. Nationally, 1 in 4 workers have been fired or threatened with job loss for taking a sick day. No one should have to choose between their health and their job.
We would like to continue to support your establishment and are eager to engage in a conversation around this issue with you. We would like to see Meridian Pint leading the restaurant industry by providing high wages, health benefits, and paid sick days.