Flava Happy Hour for Paid Sick Days Huge Success

At Tuesday’s happy hour, we heard from activists, restaurant workers and politicians alike – all coming together to share their support for paid sick days for all.

Here are Belinda Sheppard (owner of Flava) and Losia Nyankale (who works at Luna Grill and Diner in Dupont), speaking about their own experiences in the restaurant industry:

Belinda tells the story of her work with the DC Employment Justice Center, and explains why offering paid sick days to her employees is just common sense: she works alongside them, she can’t afford to lose business if her customers get sick, and it’s just the right thing to do. No one should have to choose between their health and their job.

Losia was the subject of a recent Washington Post article, which does a great job explaining how so many foodservice workers are stuck without childcare for their kids and without the ability to stay home to take care of them when they do get sick. “When I wake up in the morning, my routine is a little bit different. The first thing I do is I go over to my kids and I hug them. I hug them because I love them, but also I hug them to make sure they don’t have a fever.”

Workers like Losia need guaranteed paid sick days, no matter where they work or how long they’re working there. That’s why this campaign is so important.

We also heard from Councilmember Tommy Wells:

Councilmember Wells spoke about how the dire predictions of the restaurant lobbies haven’t come true in the wake of the 2008 paid sick days law. “It’s not the anti-business killer everybody said it would be.” It’s true – a report by the DC Auditor found that the law has had little to no impact on businesses deciding to locate in the District.

Councilmember Wells also implored all of us to join the fight and make our voices heard in the Wilson building! “We need to go back and bring everyone with us. Those brothers and sisters who work every day need to come in and have the same rights as all of the other folks.”

This won’t be easy. Councilmember Wells also spoke to us about some of the opposition we’re going to face throughout this summer and into the fall. “I’m a partner in this, but I need your help. There’s a lot of corporate interests – they’ve already started calling my office, and they’re outraged…You don’t see them; they’re in all of our offices, they raise money for our races, they raise money for my colleagues…they have a tremendous amount of power down at the Wilson building…You’re going to have to suit up, get into battle, walk our halls – don’t ask for permission – meet with us, talk to us.”

We have a lot of work ahead as we get the word out this summer, and we need your help! Check out the events we have coming up, including a pub crawl and canvass at Screen on the Green. With your help, we can make paid sick days a reality for all workers in the District.

As Councilmember Wells said: “It’s on. As of right now, it is on.”