Rob McKenna talks candidly with Seattle restaurateurs

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna lent his ear and offered advice to the Seattle Restaurant Alliance this week, recalling his own past restaurant employment, weighing in on the city’s proposal for mandatory paid sick leave and offering his assessment of the ongoing special session of the state Legislature.

“The state restaurant association does a fine job, and you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you in Olympia, not to mention in Seattle now with this new proposal for mandatory paid sick leave,” McKenna told the group.

McKenna exhibited a clear understanding of industry, recalling his own days as a teen working at McDonald’s.

“If one of us was sick, we’d just trade out shifts,” he said. “It worked out well that way.”

McKenna urged the operators to take a coalition approach in responding to the the sick leave proposal, recommending that the industry “get big fast” by linking arms with other employers and demonstrating how this idea could be detrimental to the city’s economy.

Most notably, McKenna recognized the industry’s role as an economic engine by way of job provision and revenue generation. He thanked the restaurateurs for their ongoing efforts to retain employees and provide new positions.

“I hope policymakers in the state of Washington and the City of Seattle stop taking that for granted,” he said, recommending that the business owners make stronger efforts to humanize the industry. “Let (policymakers) hear from your employees. Demonstrate the jobs you’re providing, and put a human face on what you’re doing in your business.”

McKenna congratulated the GA team on its legislative wins this session, lauding the bipartisan approach to industry advocacy.

“You taken a targeted approach, which is generally what is always most effective,” he said. “I’m so glad we’re not like D.C. here and that we’re still able to work across the aisle.”

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Heather Donahoe, WRA

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