Topics: Press

Fight Just Beginning for Fair Schedules for Retail Workers

New Poll Finds 72% of Americans Favor Two Weeks Notice on Work Schedules and Pay for Last Minute Changes

Sacramento, CA – Increased press attention and a new national poll show growing momentum for efforts to reform unpredictable schedules for retail workers. UFCW Western States Council has been working to pass AB357, the Fair Scheduling Act, which was temporarily tabled at the end of session. This marks the furthest such an effort has ever gone in California and the start of a movement to provide fair schedules for retail workers.

“When the Fair Scheduling Act was introduced, there were some who thought the bill would never get out of committee. Today, we stand on the edge of majority support in the entire Assembly,” said Jim Araby, Executive Director of UFCW Western States Council. “We have more to do – and this is a fight that is going to continue in Sacramento but also in cities and counties throughout our state and our nation as more and more people recognize that retail workers deserve predictable schedules.”

Today’s action comes on the heels of a New York Times-CBS News poll that found Americans to be overwhelmingly in favor of fair schedules. Seventy-two percent of those survey favored “requiring chain stores and fast-food outlets to give workers at least two weeks’ notice of any changes in their work schedules or provide them with extra pay.” This language mirrors the provisions in the Fair Scheduling Act.

Recent articles in outlets such as Buzzfeed, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera America, and NBC News have cast a spotlight on increasingly unstable schedules – and how they negatively impact workers.

UFCW, the Western Center on Law and Poverty and others have led the effort to raise awareness of the pitfalls of unpredictable schedules. The Schedule Fairness movement, launched earlier this year, is focused on the growing problems with so-called “on-call” or “just-in-time” schedules that force hourly retail workers to re-arrange their schedules at the last minute or risk losing future shifts or even their jobs. Other workers find that they can’t reliably plan their income as shifts can be shortened or cancelled at any time.

“Unpredictable schedules place a huge burden on working families, many of whom are low-income and are forced to rely on some form of taxpayer assistance. When workers don’t know their schedules, they can’t plan the rest of their lives, they can’t hold a second job and they can’t further their education. Erratic schedules are a barrier to families trying to move out of poverty,” said Jessica Bartholow, Western Center on Law and Poverty. “Simply giving workers fair notice and compensation for last minute changes can help them better plan their lives and their budgets and help our community address income inequality and the lack of opportunities for many families.”

“The New York Times-CBS News poll shows that the public is increasingly aware of this issue and overwhelming in favor of legislation like the Fair Scheduling Act,” said Araby. “We’re going to keep this fight going in California and across the country because it’s the right thing to do for workers and their families. State by state, city by city, this is a problem that needs to be addressed now.”