Sky not falling: Sparse attendance at paid sick days forum

Sparse attendance at the Seattle Chamber’s paid sick days forum

If attendance at Tuesday’s Seattle Chamber of Commerce forum* is any indication, the proposed paid sick days ordinance just isn’t a big deal to many Seattle business owners.

*Update 7/29: The forum was also co-sponsored by the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce, Greater Seattle Business Association, neighborhood chambers and other community groups.

To a mixed audience of 40+ supporters, opponents and engaged citizens (in a room set up for 3x that number), last night the Seattle Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum of 6 panelists to debate the paid sick days proposal.

The panelists included policy experts, small business owners, a school nurse and a corporate human resources lawyer, all answering questions from moderator Deborah Brandt followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

Several business owners turned out to support the proposal, including the owner of Roxy’s restaurant in Fremont and Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale (who spoke on the panel). Two other business owners raised questions about how the proposal would affect temporary, seasonal and contract employees, and several others were opposed.

Interestingly, the business owner representing the “no” side on the panel made it clear he was not opposed to paid sick days – he provides them to his full time employees. Instead, he raised questions and concerns about how it would affect his seasonal employees.

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce publicized this forum to every neighborhood chamber in the city, yet few business owners turned out to hear the debate. By contrast, the community forum held by the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce (of which EOI is a member) drew hundreds of workers as well as several City Council members, supportive business owners and community organizations.

It’s clear the Seattle community supports paid sick days. Now is it safe to say Seattle businesses largely do not oppose the proposed paid sick days ordinance?

We taped the event in its entirety; it will be available as soon as possible.

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