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Published on December 18, 2013,

Coalition Applauds Passage of Minimum Wage Increase, Paid Sick Days Expansion

Calls on Mayor Gray to Sign Into Law; Promises to Continue Fight for Tipped Minimum Wage Increase 1459781_621085504617179_1445916835_n

The Paid Sick Days for All Coalition applauds the D.C. City Council passage of a bill that raises DC’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2016 and ties increases after that to the cost of living and a bill that closes loopholes in the current earned sick leave bill so that restaurant workers are included and all workers can use accrued sick leave after 90 days on the job.

“To win, you have to fight,” said D.C. restaurant worker Alex Garcia. “D.C. workers are achieving great changes that will benefit us and our entire city, and one of them is passage of the minimum wage increase and paid sick days by the D.C. council. It’s been great to have the support of these coalitions in our fight, and I also want to thank the council members who have come to our side. The struggle doesn’t end here; we will keep pressuring so that these benefits can be extended to tipped workers too. These laws will improve our economy, ensure that wages for many D.C. workers keep up with increased cost of living, and keep workers like me from having to choose between our health and our job.”

The Respect DC and Paid Sick Days for All coalitions also renewed their determination to raise the tipped minimum wage, so restaurant workers and other tipped workers make a living wage. 

These bills will allow more DC residents to meet basic needs, address rising inequality in our city, and help boost our local economy. When the District’s working families earn enough money to cover the basics, it helps the whole DC economy. Right now, a mom or dad working full-time at a minimum wage job in the District earns $17,160 a year—which is below poverty for a family of three. Making such low wages, combined with the risk of losing wages or even their job when they’re sick means many have to rely on public assistance to keep their families afloat.

2011 survey of more than 500 D.C. restaurant workers revealed that nearly 80 percent had no paid sick days, and 59 percent reported going to work sick. This can have serious consequences for the health of these workers, their families, businesses, and the public. The Center for Disease Control found that nationally more than 10 million cases of foodborne illness each year are caused by sick restaurant workers contaminating food while they are at work.

Small business owners cite lack of sales as the greatest obstacle to recovery, and consumer spending accounts for nearly 70 percent of our national economy. More money in the hands of consumers will help get our economy back on track and will help our local businesses prosper.



Additional Coalition Quotes:

“This is a significant victory for everyone who lives and work in the District, not just for people working in low wage industries,” says Jacob Feinspan, executive director of Jews United for Justice. “The Jewish community and people of faith from across the city have supported these bills because they are expressions of our most deeply held values. We are thrilled to see the city council take such a strong stance in support of DC’s working families.”

“We are proud that the residents of DC stood up and forced the Council to do the right thing. We call on the Mayor to not make the same mistake he made with the Large Retailer Act, but to listen to the residents of this city, who deserve to be able to take care of themselves and their families, and overwhelmingly support these bills,” said Mike Wilson of Respect DC. “He needs to sign them into law immediately so DC workers can get the fair pay and paid sick days they have worked for, fought for, and deserve.”

“Passing an $11.50 minimum wage tied to the cost of living and paid sick days for all workers are two great steps forward for working people in Washington, DC. We’ve seen DC become more and more affluent, expensive, and booming with development, yet its longtime residents and working people have been largely shut out,” said Nikki Lewis, executive director of DC Jobs with Justice. “These victories begin to chip away at our city’s economic inequality. And we should keep in mind that the minimum wage was won because of workers and communities standing up against the greed of the biggest corporation in the world, standing up for the idea that we should put people over profits.”

“After so much hard work by a broad coalition to expand D.C.’s paid sick days law, D.C. workers who were previously excluded will now be able to earn paid sick days,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work. “This is not only a good day for workers but also for businesses, consumers and the local economy. When workers get sick, they will no longer have to worry about whether they will have to lose a day’s wage — or worse, a job — to take care of themselves or a loved one. D.C. residents and visitors will no longer have to worry that the person preparing or serving their food might be working while sick. And businesses will have lower turnover costs and earn loyalty from workers and customers alike. All the evidence shows this is a win-win-win policy. It’s not surprising that we’re seeing momentum for work-family policy solutions growing from coast to coast.”

“The Employment Justice Center commends the DC Council for passing two bills today, one to strengthen the District’s paid sick leave law so it covers more workers and another to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour,” said Ari Weisbard, Deputy Director of the Employment Justice Center. “The passage of these two laws is a major step forward for the thousands of hard-working people in the District who live from paycheck to paycheck and can lose their job just because they stay home when they are sick. Raising the minimum wage and ensuring all workers can take off work when sick will lead to greater economic security for these workers and a stronger and healthier District for all of us.”

“We’ve always offered paid sick days and are happy to see that all D.C. workers will be covered by this law,” said Roger Horowitz, owner of Pleasant Pops in D.C. “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.”

“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.”

“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.  “The minimum wage law is a great start but D.C. must not leave behind tipped workers again, we urge them to pass a bill to raise the tipped minimum wage next year.”

“I love the fact that DC is a diners’ town. Eating out is part of our experience and an economic driver,” saidCarol Joyner, director of Labor Project for Working Families. “Those of us who spend time in restaurants and bars don’t want to get sick any more than servers want to come to work sick. Paid sick days is a social justice and public health imperative. Pass paid sick days for tipped workers today, increase the minimum wage and make DC the model that it should be for the nation.”

“This makes DC healthier as a community, by making sure our hard-working residents can take a day off when they need it,” said Elissa Silverman, DC Fiscal Policy Institute.

“The Metro Labor Council applauds the efforts of the City Council to raise wages for low wage workers struggling to make ends meet and to strengthen DC’s paid sick days law,” says Joslyn Williams, President of the AFL-CIO Metro Labor Council. “But this is just the first step. $11.50/ hour is still not enough to survive in this city, and this bill does not give a raise to tipped workers. We will continue to fight for better wages for all workers in this city.”

“For those people who prepare our food, a day’s pay – even at minimum wage – can represent the difference between feeding children or seeing them go hungry,” said Marina Streznewski, executive director of DC Jobs Council. “For those who live from paycheck to paycheck, the loss of even one day’s pay can begin a vicious cycle that ends in homelessness. Paid sick leave for all workers is a moral imperative.”

“OurDC applauds the council vote as a step in the right direction,” said James Adams, communications director of OurDC. “We continue to urge council members to endorse the Working Families Ballot Initiative calling for a $12.50 minimum wage. Districts working families deserve a real living wage.”

“Paid sick days aren’t just good for the workers who make use of them — they’re good for the public as a whole,” says Liz Borkowski, a researcher at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. “Workers who can stay home to recover from the flu or other health problems are less likely to spread diseases to clients, co-workers, and people on public transportation.”


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Published on November 14, 2013,


The momentum for the paid sick days campaign is building.The Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act, which ensures that no worker in DC will be forced to choose between her health and her economic security, was introduced with overwhelming support in the DC Council on September 17th. Since then, the Paid Sick Days for All Campaign has been in non-stop action. Check out what we have been up to:

  • On November 7th, 81 DC residents called into the office of Vincent Orange, Chairman of the committee in charge of the paid sick days and minimum wage bills, the Committee of Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, to pressure him to pass both paid sick days and a higher tipped minimum wage for all workers in DC.

  • The next day, on November 8th, close to 100 community members participated in a joint rally in front of the DC City Council where workers spoke and demanded that the D.C. Council pass a higher minimum wage, a higher tipped minimum wage and stronger paid sick days legislation NOW.  After hearing from workers about their experiences lacking paid sick days and surviving on the tipped minimum wage of only $2.77, a group of 30 workers and community allies headed to the Wilson building where we visited the offices of the 5 Councilmembers on the Committee of Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

  • On November 13th, 96 DC residents called Chairman Mendelson’s office to urge him to include a higher tipped minimum wage in any minimum wage legislation, and to make sure that the paid sick days bill gets passed as part of a comprehensive effort to promote economic security for DC’s  working families.

Help take action! If you missed out on these actions, but want to support the campaign for paid sick days and a higher minimum wage, please call the members of the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and urge them to do the following:

  • Pass the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act
  • Raise the minimum wage to $12.50/hour
  • Raise the minimum wage for tipped workers


Members of Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs:

Councilmember David Grosso: (202) 724-8105

Councilmember Jim Graham (Ward 1): (202) 724-8181

Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3): (202) 724-8062

Councilmember Yvette Alexander (Ward 7): (202) 724-8068

Councilmember Vincent Orange: (202) 724-8174

Help make a difference for working families in the District and a make a call today!


*Thanks to the DC Employment Justice Center for drafting this blog post! The original can be found here.

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Published on October 30, 2013,

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One hundred and forty people, passionate about strengthening the paid sick days law in DC and raising the minimum wage, signed up to testify at Monday’s hearing at the DC Council. Dozens of other DC residents attended the hearing to show their support for both these measures.

The Paid Sick Days for All Coalition came out in force to testify in favor of expanding DC’s paid sick leave law, raising the minimum wage to $12.50 and raising the tipped minimum wage from from $2.77 to $12.50. This marks the first time the Paid Sick Days for All Coalition and the Respect DC Coalition, which leads the minimum wage campaign, have united. We are working together to ensure that all D.C. workers can care for their health without fear of losing their wages or jobs and earn enough money to cover the basics and support their families.

During the course of the 11 hour hearing, workers, economists, public health officials, employers and community groups all testified about the need for a stronger paid sick days law and a higher minimum wage to create a healthier and more economically secure district.

The day was punctuated by an action to dramatize the need for higher wages and paid sick days for DC’s working families.

During the hearing, Councilmember Vincent Orange, Chairman of the committee responsible for the paid sick days bill and the minimum wage bill, said that he was committed to raising the minimum wage and to expanding paid sick leave. Take a moment now to thank Chairman Orange and members of his committee for his support and urge him to make sure this comprehensive piece of legislation is passed as soon as possible.

Vincent Orange: vorange@dccouncil.us, (202) 724-8174, @VincentOrangeDC
Yvette Alexander: yalexander@dccouncil.us, (202) 724-8068, @CMYMA
Mary Cheh: mcheh@dccouncil.us, (202) 724-8062, @marycheh
David Grosso: dgrosso@dccouncil.us, (202) 724-8105, @cmdgrosso
Jim Graham: jgraham@dccouncil.us, (202) 724-8181, @JimGrahamWard1


*Thanks to the DC Employment Justice Center for drafting this blog post! The original can be found here.

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The Paid Sick Days Bill has been Introduced!

Published on October 2, 2013,


On September 17, the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013 was introduced in the DC City Council! The bill had widespread support from Councilmembers.

The bill was co-introduced by:

  • Chairman Phil Mendelson
  • Councilmember Marion Barry
  • Councilmember Mary Cheh
  • Councilmember Muriel Bowser
  • Councilmember Vincent Orange
  • Councilmember Anita Bonds
  • Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
  • Councilmember Tommy Wells

The bill was also co-sponsored by

  • Councilmember David Grosso
  • Councilmember Jim Graham
  • Councilmember Yvette Alexander

The Washington Post covered the bill introduction with a story about ROC-DC member, Losia Nyankale!

However, this is just the beginning. There is still a long fight ahead of us to ensure that anyone working in DC can earn a day off when they get sick.


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