Thursday was the first day of business for Philadelphia City Council and it also signaled the opening bell in the fight to pass an “Earned Sick Leave” bill. The Restaurant Opportunities Center of Philadelphia (Philly ROC) stepped in an landed the first solid jab.
Two days before the introduction, Philly ROC and Jefferson University hosted a free flu clinic for restaurant workers. Not only was this a nice benefit for this workforce at a time when flu infection is high in our nation, but it also helped the public understand why they should support the earned sick leave bill even if they already have paid sick leave themselves.
We promoted the flu clinic to restaurant workers and diners during the first days of Restaurant Week.
As Lobasso from the Philadelphia Weekly puts it…
about 60 percent of those workers have reported working while sick. Lots of us have done that, sure, but the difference is they’re working with food. Not to put too fine a point on it: our food. In the midst of a flu epidemic.
The bill was introduced with mostly positive media attention. Che Siata, a former restaurant worker and current organizer for Fight For Philly, gave some powerful testimony. The best of which you can watch on this ABC segment here…
Perhaps the best article comes from Joel Mathis’ Blog at Philly Mag. Mr. Mathis argues for Eanred Sick Leave even if you don’t care about the worker justice appeal…
Of course, the bill is not without it’s detractors.
The lobby of the restaurant business has been out in full force. I know from people in City Hall that they have been getting squeezed harder than a cubano sandwich lately by the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts, Aunt Annies and Taco Bell. They have also been visited or contacted by Joe Grace (remember him, the “progressive” candidate that ran against Mark Squilla and Jeff Hornstein for the 1 City Council seat).
If you recall, the last time we got this issue in the news in October of last year, our opponent was Patrick Conway, the “CEO” of the Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Mr. Conway wasn’t really cut out for the job. It seems like he was caught flat footed and didn’t even offer a rebuttal to our “Behind The Kitchen Door Report” for days after it came out.
When he did respond, he claimed that our report was inaccurate with out specifying how.
Quietly, he slid back into the shadows.
This time around, it looks like they restaurants have hired others to pick up the slack.
So far, they haven’t done much better than Mr. Conway though.
The hearing in City Hall introduced Melissa Bova to the narrative (she is in the ABC clip). I saw her at the hearing. She looked a little squimish when the crowd was chanting in support of the bill.
Bova trotted out the “sky is falling” claim that it is the standard Restaurant Association response to everything- “we can’t afford it right now.”
I am sure that you remember that line from the last time that the minimum wage was increased in 2006 and during the smoking ban debate…so far, there have been ZERO damaging effects and lots of positive ones.
Ok, Ms. Bova, if you will admit that what you are saying is that “we think that it is fine that restaurant owners are serving infected products to the public so long as they don’t have to let workers save up some paid sick time.” Then, I will let you off the hook and not have to tell us when you WILL BE ABLE TO AFFORD IT.
Otherwise, I look forward to seeing your proposal of when the restaurant association is going to get around to proposing their own earned sick leave bill.
Ms. Bova is actually a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the restaurant lobby that goes skittering when the lights go on like so many roaches.
There are a couple mysterious personalities out there now who are trying their best to cast ROC’s reputation into doubt and have even leveled personal attacks against me.
I will leave off their web-sites to not do them the favor of driving traffic to them, but be on the look out for Alison Harden and Lowman Henry. These two have been notably laughed off by Samantha Malamed at the City Paper…
I don’t need to slink around. People know who is am and people know who ROC is. Who are these folks?
We may never know.
In any case, round one goes to the good guys.
Let’s make sure that it soon become clear that this bill will help many more workers than just restaurant workers in the next round.
PSOU In The NYT?
Dynnita Bryant just had a phone interview with David Wallace of the New York Times. Of course, she may not appear in the upcoming feature, but we have our fingers crossed..