The Council may include elements from other cities that have implemented successful policies; however the goal is to balance all perspectives and interests, with special consideration for the needs of Spokane’s small businesses. The Council will continue to gather input from the community on the issue for the next six weeks.
Small business owners, medical professionals, non-profits, community groups and city council members gathered in a packed Saranac Commons on Tuesday to unveil a sick, safe and family leave policy for the City of Spokane. The Spokane Alliance, a coalition of groups in Spokane County, has been conducting outreach and analysis for nearly two years with positive results: nearly two dozen small businesses already endorse the draft policy, city council has announced their intention to pass a policy by summer, and hundreds of stories have been collected that speak to the profound impact of employees having access to paid sick, safe and family leave.
If you're out sick from work, do you get paid? Many in Spokane do not, but some city council members want to change that. The policy would be based on a proposal from the Spokane Alliance that outlines how employees would accrue sick leave and how much of it they could earn at different sized businesses.
The Spokane Alliance held a news conference in the Saranac Commons Marketplace to announce a support for paid sick, safe, and family leave. The policy would require some time off for personal illness or injury, care for ill family members, and for legal or safety needs of domestic violence survivors.
Two in five workers in Spokane make the choice between their health and paying their bills. These are minimum wage jobs with few to no benefits. The Spokane Alliance — a nonpartisan and nonprofit alliance of congregations, unions, schools and community groups — has been meeting with small business owners, public health professionals and impacted workers to craft a solution that works for Spokane.
In Washington state, about 1 million workers are faced with the decision of either going to work sick or forgoing a day’s wages. Stacey Kerr, head chef at the Lantern, said the sick leave policy for her staff “really warmed my heart.” “Nobody wants to come to work sick, but it comes down to ‘Will I make rent this week?’ ” Kerr said, “Eighty dollars doesn’t sound like a lot to a lot of people. But it really is.”
Almost 200 people packed the Spokane City Council chambers and Chase Gallery on Monday night for the council’s final meeting of the year. Most of them came to support an ordinance put forth by Council President Ben Stuckart mandating that a certain amount of work on public works construction projects be performed by apprentices.
The Spokane Alliance, a nonpartisan organization with 20,000 members from churches, education associations, unions, and nonprofits, has been working with the Spokane City Council on a set of job-building ordinances to be voted on later this year.
The ordinances would increase apprenticeship opportunities on public works projects for young people and veterans and also would allow the city, as part of the bidding process, to consider the sales tax revenue it would receive by purchasing locally – giving a leg up to Spokane businesses.
City Councilman Jon Snydersaid better sick pay plans benefit everyone and called the Paid Sick, Safe, Family Leave policy common sense. “Who benefits when a young single mom or dad has to choose between their job and taking care of a sick kid at home? No one,” he said.