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Campaign Updates

10/17/2019 | Restoring a Fair Workweek

Following New Findings on the Effects of Unstable Schedules, Congress to Pursue Fair Scheduling Legislation

Reps. DeLauro, Schakowsky, Sen. Warren plan to introduce fair scheduling legislation this fall


WASHINGTON -- In a roundtable discussion today with retail workers, sociologists and policy advocates, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced her intention to introduce the Schedules that Work Act to provide predictable work hours for hourly employees in low-wage industries. Representative DeLauro and Senator Elizabeth Warren will jointly reintroduce the bill in the coming weeks.   

"The biggest economic challenge of our time is that people are working in jobs that do not pay them enough to keep up with the rising costs of healthcare, child care, housing, and education,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “That problem is compounded when working people do not have a voice in their schedules, which not only impacts them, but also their families. That is why I will be reintroducing the Schedules That Work Act with Senator Warren. Working people deserve to have dignity in their work and the ability to plan their lives, and our legislation will ensure that they do."

The discussion, hosted by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the Center for Popular Democracy, United for Respect and the National Women’s Law Center, addressed a new report from University of California researchers Daniel Schneider and Kristen Harknett documenting how widespread unstable work hours are in the service sector, and the severe impact of this instability on U.S. workers and their families. In their survey, of 30,000 retail and food service workers at 120 of the largest U.S. retail and food service companies, they found significant negative impacts of unpredictable schedules across a worker’s life and family. The survey was first reported in The New York Times.

According to the report, having an unpredictable work schedule:

  • Raises the likelihood that workers will experience material hardship, including food and housing insecurity; 

  • Destabilizes children’s routines and care arrangements, heightening children’s anxiety and behavioral challenges and forcing parents to rely on inconsistent and low-quality child care; 

  • Increases the likelihood a worker will quit their job; and

  • Perpetuates racial inequality: workers of color, particularly women of color, experience more unstable work hours than their white coworkers at the same employer.

In the course of the roundtable conversation, workers shared how their experiences with unstable schedules impacted their families and other areas of their lives.

“At Big Lots, my work schedule wasn’t made available to me until the day before our workweek began. It made it so stressful and difficult to plan ahead  for the week, because I’m the sole provider for my children and my mom,” said Brandy Powell, United for Respect leader and mother who works retail in California. “I deserve a say in when I work, and I deserve advance notice when I’m expected to work. When I told Big Lots I wouldn’t be available because my kids had doctor’s visits, they ignored my shift requests and called me into work. I was forced to quit my job after 11 months because it was too much stress for me and my family.”

The workers were joined by representatives from the National Women’s Law Center, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and One Pennsylvania.

“When so many women don’t have enough notice of their schedules to plan their lives and care for their kids, when they don’t have enough hours to pay for rent and groceries and child care, it’s no wonder that we’re still seeing gender wage gaps—gaps that are especially wide for women of color and women who are moms, and for moms who are women of color most of all,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “That’s why we need the Schedules That Work Act and the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights.”  

The Schedules that Work Act would require employers in the retail, food service, cleaning, hospitality and warehouse sectors to provide two weeks’ advance notice of work schedules and compensate workers for employer-initiated shift changes. The bill would also protect workers’ right to input into work schedules and at least eleven hours of nightly rest between work shifts. The forthcoming Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights, to be introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), will allow part-time hourly workers to pick up additional hours before the employer can hire new staff, along with other protections for part-time workers--who typically experience lower pay and access to benefits, as well as greater scheduling instability, than their full-time counterparts.

States and cities are also moving forward with introducing legislation to guarantee a fair workweek. Last year, Philadelphia and Chicago became the latest cities to pass fair scheduling legislation. Similar measures are already law in Oregon, Seattle, WA; Emeryville, CA; San Francisco, CA; and New York, NY. 

Los Angeles, Washington state, and New Jersey are considering similar bills during their upcoming legislative sessions.

“Workers from New York to Oregon and Los Angeles to Chicago have been standing up to demand a Fair Workweek so that they and their families can thrive,” said Rachel Deutsch with the Center for Popular Democracy’s Fair Workweek Initiative. “We hope members of Congress will pass the Schedules That Work Act and Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights to ensure that millions of workers can rely on predictable and stable hours.” 

In June, the Los Angeles City Council directed the City Attorney to draft a fair workweek ordinance, and workers with UFCW local 770, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and other community groups urged the council to act quickly during a hearing on October 15. In Washington, a coalition led by UFCW Local 21 and Working Washington is backing policy championed by state senator Rebecca Saldaña and representative Nicole Macri. On October 16, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg announced her intention to introduce fair workweek legislation at a press conference with Make the Road New Jersey, United for Respect, Unite Here, SEIU, NJ Citizen Action, and other allies. 



Media Contact: Lia Weintraub, lweintraub@populardemocracy.org, 202-618-2482