As consumers, we care about where our food comes from: how it is grown, the environmental impact, and the treatment of animals. But what about the workers who prepare, cook, and serve our food? How are they being treated?
In 2008, Washington, D.C. passed a groundbreaking law allowing many workers in the District of Columbia to take paid time off to recover from illness or instances of domestic violence. We applaud this decision as a step in the right direction. However, this law does not cover everyone. Anyone who has been working for less than a year or any tipped restaurant worker was exempted from coverage due to heavy lobbying by the restaurant industry, even though these workers can still get sick and spread illness to others.
Over 80% of restaurant workers in DC cannot take paid sick days, and as a result, 59% of restaurant workers have reported preparing, cooking, or serving food while sick, thus exposing their co-workers and customers to potential illnesses. Getting sick can spell disaster for families without paid sick days. A recent study shows that just 3.5 days of lost pay can equal a family’s entire monthly grocery budget. This is unjust. No one should have to choose between their health and financial security. Paid Sick Days for All would not only protect people’s jobs and financial security, but it would also reduce the District’s health care costs, limit the spread of illnesses, and boost business productivity.
It is time that we include workers in our definition of fair food practices. JUFJ is a key partner in a coalition that is working to demand justice from our favorite restaurants. Join the Paid Sick Days for All campaign to ensure that no worker has to choose between taking care of their health and earning a day’s pay.