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We agree with the Mayor that Austin is indeed a magical place. Many things make us so but at the heart of it all are the people who live here and care deeply enough to give back to their community and devote their lives to creating some of that magic we all get to enjoy. These include the enormous number of local businesses who provide us an alternative to the giant, faceless corporations that threaten to overwhelm us, slowly eroding the quality, the variety, the heart of local commerce.
We’re the moms & pops, the aunts & uncles, neighbors and friends who contribute to the magical fabric of Austin. Who would we be without Amy’s Ice Creams, BookPeople, Hoover’s Cooking, Torchy’s Tacos, Toy Joy, Planet K, and so many more? Where do you take your friends when they visit? Starbuck’s? Wal-Mart? No. You take them to Barton Springs. You take them to Esther’s Follies. You take them to Juan in a Million, Chuy’s and Franklin’s Barbecue. These are an integral part of the magic of Austin. All the unique local businesses that feed you, clothe you, fix your car, your plumbing and so much more, make Austin what it is. They work for you, and many of you work for them. We’re all in this together.
Recently a community issue was brought to light. Some among us don’t get a paid day off to be sick or care for someone who is sick. This shouldn’t happen. AIBA and local business stand behind wanting everyone in our community to have a range of benefits. Wanting this for all is one step. Figuring out how to pay for it is another step.
Local business owners are not giant corporations that can reliably generate enough wealth to pay for large and generous benefits. Most local businesses do offer paid sick days along with many other benefits. Many have come up with creative ways to offer benefits that help their employees without breaking the bank, allowing them to continue operations and, hopefully, grow to the point to offer additional benefits. They struggle daily to make enough to grow the business and hire more people, even in the face of rising rents and costs of doing business in Austin, all while competing with national chains who often are able to offer lower prices. They also strive to pay great employees more so they can keep them in the face of increasing competition. But they share the same affordability issues everyone in Austin is dealing with, and we see businesses shutter on a daily basis. This is a trend we must fight to stop, if we want to keep our fabric strong, keep the magic of Austin alive.
The Austin City Council sought to solve one problem by causing another. Their hastily-formed solution for the problem of employees not having paid sick days was rushed through in a process that was unnecessarily and tragically divisive, pitting parts of our community against others in an artificial divide that does not, in fact, exist. This masked the fact that we are all on the same side, and all working towards the same goals. There is a better way. Small local businesses are not the enemy. It takes all of us to create and sustain a healthy economy that benefits all and reaches all.
Woven together we create the fabric of Austin—strong, weird and wonderful—that cannot be torn apart. We must not let our threads be tugged out one by one, but work together to make Austin the place we want it to be. This is where you come in. We’re asking you to Stand With Local and not turn against the very businesses that are here for you. Help them to continue making Austin the place you love, the place you choose to make your home. Help them achieve the success they need to provide everyone what they need to thrive. Because ultimately, we’re all in this together. There is no them, we are all just us. #IStandWithLocal