As we close out National Work & Family month, it’s a good time to take stock of the strides made so far this year in the fight for fair schedules for working families. July saw the introduction of the federal Schedules that Work Act which would provide workers with more predictable and stable schedules, as well as a say in when they work. San Francisco stepped up to the plate next, with the Retail Workers Bill of Rights which would ensure fair scheduling practices and stable incomes for employees in the city’s chain fast food restaurants and retail stores. And earlier this summer, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer held a public forum on workers’ need for a voice in their schedules. Not to be outdone, a state senator in Michigan just introduced a fair scheduling bill [PDF] a couple of weeks ago.
These developments have been fueled by articles about moms like Jannette Navarro who routinely had to beg her friends and family to watch her son on a moment’s notice, after receiving her schedule just a day or two in advance. Jannette was reduced to tears pleading with her manager for a schedule that coincided with day care hours. Melody Pabon saw her hours and paycheck cut by a third simply because she asked for a shift change that would allow her to get home before her four-year-old went to sleep at night.
Workers in low-wage jobs are standing up and demanding change. They are saying employers can and must do better than posting schedules at the last minute or sending workers home on a whim. They are demanding the ability to plan their lives – to know their schedules far enough in advance to be able to make child care arrangements, to be able to work a schedule around the need to take a kid to a standing doctor’s appointment, and to have hours that are stable enough that they have a pretty good idea of what will be in their paycheck at the end of the week. For many working families, having a say in their schedules would simply make all the difference.