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| Restoring a Fair Workweek

Volatile Schedules Exacerbate Inequality

New York Times - July 23, 2014, by Carrie Gleason - Across the economy, workers are either employed for too few hours or far too many in an ever-changing workweek that demands 24/7 availability, without guarantees of equal treatment or employee input.

The volatile work schedules of today erode earning potential, push workers out of the work force, and exacerbate inequality, especially for women and workers of color who are more likely to work part-time jobs. For a fair paycheck, these workers need wages and hours with dignity.

Workers, especially women, are coming together to say we need a voice in how much and when we work — so we can raise our families and join the middle class. Tiffany Beroid, who worked at Walmart, and Melody Pabon, who works at the clothing store Zara, both had fluctuating part-time schedules that made it impossible to keep their kids in stable childcare and plan their own schooling.

Ms. Beroid dropped out of school for a semester because Walmart cut her hours when she requested a new schedule. Ms. Pabon took her son out of formal childcare because her part-time job didn’t pay enough to cover the cost. Ms. Beroid and Ms. Pabon are part of the movement to restore a fair workweek, organizing at their jobs and sharing their stories on Capitol Hill at the introduction of the federal Schedules that Work Act.

This legislation would set standards for low-wage occupations. It would require two weeks notice of schedule changes, notification of minimum work hours and extra pay for on-call shifts or for workers who are sent home early. It would also give workers the right to request reasonable scheduling accommodations for serious health conditions, caregiving responsibilities and school.

While companies have a choice in how they schedule employees, the personal stories we've heard show that we can’t count on companies to do the right thing on their own. Along with the federal legislation, a new bill in San Francisco would provide new protections for part-time workers.

These proposals would create a new baseline of legal protections to ensure equity in the hours we work.