Working Washington has a message for business advocates who say unpredictable scheduling isn't a problem for hourly workers: Get your heads out of the sand.
Today, the union-funded advocacy group released a survey of about 300 hourly workers showing that about half of them learn their work schedule a week or less in advance.
Women and workers of color are hit particularly hard:
"In contrast to the head-in-sand response of some self-appointed leaders of the business community," Working Washington's report reads, "our survey results clearly indicate that the problem is widespread, serious, and has a deep impact on the lives of many service-industry workers in Seattle."
More than half of workers surveyed said they had been worked "clopenings" and most said they experienced significant changes in the total number of hours they're scheduled from week to week. Of the 300 workers surveyed, most filled out an online survey; 98 were questioned by Working Washington staff or their fellow employees with a "detailed one-on-one field survey instrument."
Working Washington has been pushing the Seattle City Council to pass secure scheduling legislation (similar to laws in place in San Francisco). National research has found that advance notice of schedules varies among different jobs, but that unpredictability is "the norm" among low-qualification jobs.
Yet, at a meeting with Seattle City Council members last week, local business owners expressed doubts that scheduling problems are widespread in Seattle. They asked for a city study of the problem. With this new local survey in hand, I reached out to some of those business representatives today for response and didn't have much luck. Bob Donavan, the employment lawyer who told the council scheduling "does not seem like it's an emergency situation," told me he didn't want to talk because he's "not the spokesperson or point person on this." I haven't heard back from the Washington Restaurant Association or Tom Douglas Restaurants CEO Pamela Hinckley, who told the council she was frustration that "city government considers it their job" to regulate scheduling, but will update this post if I do. The Washington Retail Association has said scheduling reform could make Seattle "a nightmare."
City council members say drafting and passing scheduling legislation could take four months. In the meantime, unpredictable scheduling makes it more difficult for low-wage workers—who often get only part-time hours—to get a second job, find childcare, or go back to school. Working Washington asked survey participants about this. Here's what they heard:
53% of those asked would spend more time with family
25% would get a second job
31% would go back to school
30% would volunteer in their community
Read the full report here.