More reporters would benefit from hearing waiters (and a six-foot “germ”) explain how sick restaurant workers spread illnesses to customers

At a news conference last week that deserved to get more media attention, the Campaign for a Healthy Denver unveiled “Sick Rick,” the mascot for their effort to pass Initiative 300, which would guarantee paid sick days for all Denver workers.

At the same event, the campaign presented workers, identified as food service employees, who told stories about how they’ve been ill, gone to work, and possibly passed on disease to restaurant customers

Sick Rick is a walking, six-foot-tall “germ” designed to highlight the campaign’s view that if Initiative 300 isn’t passed, more restaurant workers will be forced to go to work when sick and spread illnesses to customers. Its motto reportedly is: “We don’t want boogers in our burgers (or phlegm with our fries.)”

Sick Rick

Sick Rick, a Walking Germ

“When you hand me a credit card to pay for your nonfat grande latte, I might be making you sick,” said Laura, who identified herself as a Starbucks employee and spoke at the news conference prior to the appearance of Sick Rick.

She told reporters that, for example, she contracted a severe cold around Christmas time last year but went to work anyway because she could not afford to stay home.

“Who knows if I infected my customers,” she said, explaining that if she passed up her shift, she’d have lost about $65, enough to pay her utility bill for a month or groceries for two weeks.

“This group has been pulling a lot of stunts to distract voters from the fact that the people of Denver who need jobs, city officials, and people who own small business have all said Denver can’t afford Initiative 300,” said George Merritt, spokesman for No on 300.

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