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Surprise Scheduling

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One of the many indignities low wage workers suffer is with their schedules. Whether the constant shift of their schedules week to week, reporting to work and being sent home after an hour if business is slow, and surprise scheduling are all practices that should be banned. They seriously interfere with the ability of an individual to live a dignified life. New York City at least is moving in the right direction on this issue.

The text message came as Flavia Cabral walked to a McDonald’s restaurant in Manhattan for her 6 p.m. shift on a May evening. It was from her manager. Business was slow and she was not needed.

Cabral said she was not too surprised. Her work hours fluctuate almost weekly, though losing an entire shift at the last minute happens only once every few months. This time the canceled shift took a $63 bite out of her average $350 gross weekly earnings from two part-time jobs.

“Every week you’re guessing how much money you’re going to get and how many days you’re going to work,” said Cabral, 53, who has been employed at McDonald’s for four years.But a measure of relief is coming for Cabral and 65,000 other New York City fast-food workers whose schedules and incomes often change with little or no notice.

New York recently became the largest U.S. city to require fast-food restaurants to schedule workers at least two weeks in advance, or pay them extra for changes.

The law, which the restaurant industry vigorously opposed, also requires employers to allow 11-hour breaks between shifts, offer part-time staff additional work before hiring new employees, and pay retail workers to be “on call.” It takes effect late this year.

Great work by SEIU on this, which continues to support the fast food workers movement even if they don’t get dues money from new members.

This sort of thing should be a central part in a Democratic Party’s new agenda of basic rights for workers. By itself, advocating for such a federal law would not be all that compelling in terms of GOTV, but as part of a larger package that included the $15 minimum wage, a new law placing the Obama overtime regulatory standards into the legal code, a federally guaranteed job, and other pro-worker planks that would reset corporate power in this country, they would go far to rejuvenating their appeal among the working classes of all races.

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