Small businesses should support “Common Ground” paid sick days proposal

Jody Hall, Cupcake Royale & Verite Coffee

From the day I started my business, taking care of my people has been my utmost priority. Within a year of opening, I offered heath insurance for employees who worked 30+ hours. As our business grew, I added paid vacation for our hourly baristas, bakers and drivers, in addition to paid time off for our management staff.

The paid sick days ordinance is sparking great debate among small businesses in Seattle. At first, I was reluctant to support the effort. I thought that the original proposal requiring 9 paid days a year (based on a voter-approved law in San Francisco) seemed steep for the majority of small businesses in Seattle.

But instead of deciding to be against it, I wanted to be a part of an effort to share concerns to shape something that works for small businesses and is unique for the city of Seattle.

I joined with a group of small business owners, including Joe Fugere (Tutta Bella), David Meinert (Big Mario’s & 5 Point Café), and Linda Derschang (Linda’s Tavern, Oddfellows, Smith & King’s Hardware), to sit down with public health advocates and labor unions and develop a new paid sick days proposal based on common ground.

For everyone involved, it seemed that by working together we could do better, and offer a fair solution that creates a healthy environment for employees, small businesses and the community.

We met for about 2 months to build this agreement – and presented our proposal to City Council and the Mayor just last week, built around core common ground principles:

· Promote public health by making sure no one comes to work sick.
· Ensure no worker loses income or their job because they are sick.
· Support the success of local, vibrant small businesses in our city.

Our proposal is flexible and fair for small businesses. Small and mid-sized businesses provide fewer sick days. Businesses with Paid Time Off (PTO) policies that meet ordinance standards don’t have to change policies. There is flexibility for shift trading. Part-time employees earn fewer sick days than full-time.

I feel proud of this effort. Instead of the usual ways of bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-death politics, we met as a group of concerned parties to figure out a solution that works for Seattle. I think it's a solution that many small businesses will be excited about supporting, and I think it's the right solution for the employees that make our businesses shine.

Note: Cupcake Royale & Verite Coffee is a wholesale and retail business with five locations in Seattle and Bellevue. Hall buys from local farmers, helping to create jobs and support the local economy. Hall also supports community efforts helping to raise money by donating over 40,000 cupcakes. In June, Hall decided to give half of the proceeds of "The Gay" cupcake to the It Gets Better Project – raising $10,000 for the effort.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.