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With the movement for a mandatory paid-sick-leave ordinance seemingly gaining steam, the Washington Restaurant Association today exhorted its Seattle members to ask the city council

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Washington Restaurant Association Ramps Up Fight Against Paid Sick Leave

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With the movement for a mandatory paid-sick-leave ordinance seemingly gaining steam, the Washington Restaurant Association today exhorted its Seattle members to ask the city council to oppose the plan.

Josh McDonald, the association's director of state and local government affairs, says concern that the proposed legislation could cost restaurant owners upward of $100,000 prompted the "action alert."

"This rises to that level," McDonald says. "We know our city council leaders are looking at this now, and we felt it was incredibly important to have a voice."

The food-and-beverage industry has emerged as a flashpoint in the mandatory sick-leave debate, with legislation supporters arguing the measure would boost food safety by preventing cooks, servers, and bartenders from coming to work sick. The "about us" page of the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce, which is leading the charge for paid sick days, pictures a server with her hand hovering over a defenseless salad.

But many restaurant owners say the law would cut into already-slim profit margins. The plan proposed by the Seattle Coalition calls for employees of companies with fewer than 10 workers to receive five paid sick days annually. Employees of larger companies would receive nine paid sick days.

The Washington Restaurant Association is urging its members to tell the city council that "this proposal would devastate my business, which is already struggling in these difficult times," and "I will not be able to maintain my current staff if this proposal is adopted."

While McDonald acknowledges many restaurant owners have already communicated their feelings to local politicians, he anticipates many more association members will respond to the action alert.

"This gives them an opportunity to say why we're concerned," McDonald says.

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