Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is done, the discussion about forcing people to work on holidays should be ramping up—not dying down. There is no question that thousands of retail workers were placed in untenable and abusive circumstances by retailers and restaurants that opened on Thanksgiving or at absurdly early hours on “Black Friday.” But the untenable and abusive circumstances will continue throughout December, a month of multiple religious and community holidays and immense pressure by corporate retailers on their employees.
So, instead of simply celebrating the firms that did treat their workers well or condemning the firms that did not, it is time to turn up the volume on demands for workplace standards—and to recognize them as essential complements to demands for living-wage pay. “Erratic, constantly changing schedules aren’t just a nightmare for workers, they’re bad for business,” says national Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta, who argues that there is a crying need to “adopt 21st-century policies that keep up with the changing nature of today’s workplace.”
San Francisco—where voters in November approved a series of increases that will result in a city minimum wage of $15 an hour—is in the process of establishing needed protections for workers in chain stores and restautants. Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously backed a “Retail Workers Bill of Rights” which combined several pieces of legislation with an eye toward
* Promoting Full-Time Work and Access to Hours
To encourage full-time employment, employers must offer more hours to existing part-time employees before hiring additional part-time workers.
* Encouraging Fair, Predictable Schedules
To discourage erratic, unpredictable scheduling practices, employers will be required to post schedules at least two weeks in advance. Employees will receive one hour of pay at their regular rate of pay for schedule changes made with less than a week’s notice and two to four hours of pay for schedule changes made with less than 24 hours’ notice.
* Discouraging Abusive On-Call Scheduling Practices
Employers will be required to provide two to four hours of pay to an employee at his/her regular rate of pay when she/he is required to be “on-call” for a specified shift but the employer cancels the shift with less than 24 hours’ notice.
* Equal Treatment for Part-Time Workers
Employers will be prohibited from discriminating against an employee with respect to their starting rate of pay, access to employer-provided paid and unpaid time off, or access to promotion opportunities.