Sick or Treat – Petworth cares about sick restaurant workers!

Amid the miniature princesses and skeletons out in force on Halloween night, a group of grownup zombie chefs haunted DC’s streets. They scorned candy, instead seeking- what else?- petition signatures.

The Paid Sick Days for All canvass “Trick or Treat for a Healthy DC” gathered over 30 JUFJ, ROC, and EJC volunteers. Meeting at Petworth’s Parkview Recreation Center, volunteers mingled and swapped candy with the children and families celebrating around the Rec Center as the had their faces painted, put on their chef hats and aprons, and prepared to meet the wonderful families of Petworth.

Dressed as sick waiters and chefs, these volunteers were able to collect over 300 signatures for our petition, pushing our total well above 1,100! This means that through the course of the night, we had over 300 new conversations with DC residents, spreading the word about the risks posed when restaurant workers are forced to come to work sick.
Residents of Petworth were overwhelmingly supportive of our message, understanding immediately the importance of protecting the public health through paid sick days.

Although the DC Council passed a law in 2008 that guarantees that all workers in the District can earn up to seven days of paid sick days, a last-minute amendment was made to the law, excluding all tipped restaurant workers from earning this benefit.

“This has been the best canvassing I’ve ever done”’, said an experience canvasser who knocked on doors and spoke to residents in the area. While residents were a bit disappointed that we were not there for the candy, once they heard the horrific stories of restaurant workers who’ve had to work with swine flu or whose common cold has turned into severe bronchitis, they called on their neighbors and friends to also sign our petition.

Especially during flu season, parents like the ones we met in Petworth understand all too well the difficult choice between sending a sick child to school, leaving that sick child home alone, or staying home to care for that child at the risk of losing one’s job.

Seeing the overhwelmingly positive reaction of Petworth residents to our canvassing, the Paid Sick Day for All Coalition cannot wait to go out and speak to more residents of the District about this important issue. So don’t be surprised if next time we knock on your door.