Fair Scheduling: Workers Speak Out

“My name is Dwayne, I’m here to Fight for 15, a Union, and a schedule. I’m out here today because they gave me two hours of work, and I wasn’t really happy about it, sometimes they call me early, this that and the other, and most times they only give me two hours ever since. I hardly make enough. For me, every time I work for two hours, my paycheck says $86.68. Mostly I have another job I work. All I say that little bit of change, my bills come up, my bills kinda crappy ever since.”

“I’m Jonathan, I work at McDonald’s. I work 167 Chambers Street in Manhattan, New York. I’m here to show my support for the Fight for $15 minimum wage. It would be tremendous for the $15. I could do more things, have more freedom, have a little fun.”

“My name is Shantel Walker, I work at Papa John’s. I’m here today because I want City Council to pass the bill for fair scheduling, and at this time us workers are faced with the options of, if we want to take a day off, they want to retaliate against us if we don’t want to take the shift they give us. Also, about the empowerment bill that we need our own non-profit organization of our own, for us, by us. There’s a lot of things that go on in the workplace, there’s a lot of laws that are being broken, there’s a lot of laws that we have that’s work related, work rights, being violated day by day, and we want to take a stand in times like these.

“[This law] will affect my life, by I’ll have access to my hours. If I want to do my 40 hours, I can get it, I don’t have to worry about if I’m going to be on the schedule this week, worry if I’m going to be on the schedule next week, I’ll have a consecutive life, because we don’t get consecutive days to work, sometimes we don’t even get asked what schedule we want, so they just give us any schedule that they feel fit, some people are on call, so that would change a lot of things.

“[Since the minimum wage got passed], I feel like it’s better. We never wanted to make a million dollars, but we work for a million dollar corporation, and we just want respect on the job, we want dignity, we want human rights, we want the rights to just come together, and since they don’t want to come to the table, we took it upon ourselves bring our own table.”

“Good afternoon, my name is Natasha Oxley, and I am a member of the retail action project, or RAP, a worker center initiative of the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union. RAP is an organization of retail workers, dedicated to improving opportunities and workplace standards in the retail industry. At RAP we’re very excited about today’s City Council vote, because today the New York City Council will finally once and for all ban the practice of on-call scheduling in NYC!

“The growing retail workforce, which is now 1 in 10 workers nationally, deals with not just low wages, but in few benefits, unfair scheduling, underemployment and daily disrespect. This type of treatment is often justified by the claim that retail is a low skill job. But any RAP member will be glad to tell you about the sharpness of our logistics and planning skills that have come from juggling a full life and raising families without a reliable schedule or paycheck: how we make a $250 check magically stretch over a week and a half because we don’t know what next week’s hours may be; how we manage the fast paced, physically demanding, multitasking, and customized selling of the retail industry, smiling in the face of constant rudeness, and lack of appreciation.

“Throughout my work in retail over the last five years, I’ve dealt not only with difficult conditions, and demanding customers, but also with multiple scheduling issues, from having my life on hold, waiting for an on-call shift, to my shifts getting cut, to not even having enough hours in a week. My retail jobs have never allowed me to live a full life and make ends meet.

“You’ll hear retailers talk about an on-call as a way to run a more efficient business for employers and customers alike, but the truth is, that when I have to worry about missing class, and how I make up the work, I’m not an effective worker, and the company is hurt by that. I have struggled with maintaining my school schedule, never been able to secure a second job, and I still don’t make enough money to live off of, all because of on-call.

“I once had a co-worker who had couch-surfed for over a year because he can only get 12 hours a week reliably, and was on call for the rest of the week, so he was never able to save enough money for his own place to live. He had nearly a three hour commute to the job and found himself calling in to check on whether he was already needed while already on route to work. It was expensive, erratic, and exhausting for him.  

“These are not the kind of work experiences that anyone should have to endure. That’s why I’m here today to urge the city council and the mayor to ban on call and make Intro 1387 into law. Retail workers deserve stable scheduling. Retail workers deserve predictable scheduling, and retail workers deserve fair scheduling, and today, with our city council, we are one step closer to making that happen. Thank you.

Black Lives Matter!”

Shantel Walker aka Bedstuy Dymond: “We got my brother, one of the leaders in the Fight for $15. My brother from Dunkin Donuts in Brooklyn, Pierre Metivier!”

“My name is Pierre Metivier and I work at Dunkin Donuts in Brooklyn. So it’s like, the one spot I’m fighting at the workplace right now is fighting the schedule. As of right now, they have me working where they can just call me and say, ‘Hey, we need somebody today to close, we need somebody to open tomorrow morning. So, this is my schedule, that’s how my schedule goes. And then, I’m forced to be working as security, doing all the types of jobs, in order to feed my family, which I can’t even afford sometimes. So, this is why we’re here today. We want to let the City Council know we need them to pass this bill today. Not tomorrow, not  the next day. Today! Now!”

“That’s right Pierre we need it now, we can’t wait another day. We need to feed our families today. We need a schedule today. We don’t need to be on call today. We need our schedule today, we need our money now. We need an organization now. We can’t wait for our education of our communities, and for our communities to keep suffering by the wayside. We need it now. We need our kids to be in a safe environment, we need good schools for our children.

Next up to the stage we have a taxi driver named Mohammed Tipu Sultan!”

“Today is the historic day! I do remember that when I was helping to go organize 2012 fast food workers, it was 2012. It was right there, still I have the Facebook in 2012 picture. At 2017, we just getting the bill! And it is a great, great, great achievement, and the City Council all you need to do now, look we are surrounding the City Hall. Yes! If we need to get in, yes we can get in, too! This is the power of the organization! This is the power of the Union! And I’m very happy. Last five years, I was waiting for this day! And New York City is the first city looking forward to be organized and given some kinds of rights for the first time for the fast food workers. Yes, we can! Si se Puede! Si se Puede!

“I am one of the organizers for the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Brothers and sisters, 32BJ, they’re helping New York Taxi Workers Alliance. You understand, we have over 19,000 members in our union, so it is a great opportunity to organize, unionize, fight back, get your rights. You fight until you get your right! Thank you so much, brothers and sisters. God bless you.”

“Thank you, thank you. Next off I would like to introduce you guys to Alberto Salvita from Make the Road.

“Make the Road is so excited to be out here with you all today fighting to pass this legislation. Excited to be out here with fast food workers, with retail workers, with taxi workers, fighting for justice and fairness. Look, we were proud to stand next to fast food workers last year in the Fight for 15 and we we’re proud when we won an historic increase in the minimum wage. But the fight for 15 has always been about more than just a wage. It’s been about dignity and respect and power on the job, and that’s what these bills are about. They’re about making 15 real, about making sure that workers have hours. About making sure that workers don’t have to choose between reliable childcare and going to work. And I want to introduce one of our members Alberto who’s going to say a few words in Spanish about how important this is for all workers, not just fast food workers.”

“Si se Puede!

[Spanish transcript needed! Please help! Email: editor@pww.org]

Translation (Incomplete! Please help!): “We’re incredibly honored to be out here fighting with our brothers and sisters in fast food. We’re out here fighting for stable schedules, and we’re fighting for full time hours.”

“Si se Puede! Si se Puede! Si se Puede!”

Please let me welcome Daniela Contreras, Daniella Contreras, member of NDWA.

“My name is Daniella, and I’m a daughter, a worker, and a mother, and a domestic worker, and an organizer. I have worked in all the areas of domestic work: caring, and cleaning for the people, and things that are most valuable to families. I first came to the U.S. when I was 11. It was a struggle learning the language, getting a job, and building a life here, but I did, and my journey continues.

“I currently work as a house cleaner, a preschool teacher, and as an organizer at the National Domestic Workers’ alliance. So we can do it; we can do a lot of jobs! Fast food workers have led us locally and nationally in an inspiring fight for fair living wages. They put this on the map, and even in the domestic work industry, I have witnessed workers and employers alike think twice about how they set the wage. Many domestic workers in New York City are women of color, immigrant women who have families to support. As a single mother and a family care giver for my own mother, I am one of many who are part of the sandwich generation. I know my job impacts the way I can show up for my family, and in addition to a living wage, having control over my time is also important to me. Fair scheduling practices are key to work with dignity, because we need economic security and also predictable stable schedules that allow us to live a fuller life.

“When I became emboldened at the National Domestic Workers Alliance in 2015, I found my political home. Growing up, I have witnessed what my mother went through as a domestic worker, and when I first started working as a domestic worker myself, I saw the conditions first hand, and met many cleaners and nannies with stories of injustice.

“Many domestic workers are immigrants who don’t know their rights,  – and that’s our job, we need to know our rights, –  but don’t feel they have the right to speak up, because they live in fear. Employers have too much power, and often domestic workers don’t have a lot of power unless they come together and fight for it. We must build organizations that make it possible for us to come together and organize to have our human and working needs met. The fast food worker empowerment bill is vital, not just for fast food workers, but for all of us. On our own, we might travel fast, but together we can travel faster.”

After the vote….

“My name is Pamela Majors. I work at KFC on 145th St and Lenox Avenue in Harlem. I wanted to get these bills passed because they’re very important to not only my story and my coworkers, all over it’s important for us to get the respect, dignity, and to have an organization, and some empowerment. [The bills] were for us getting a fair work schedules, and for us to better incorporate our schedules with our livelihood, and to get more hours, and to stop clopening, it’s a form of closing and then turning around and opening the store, where you don’t even get decent sleep, and, yes, for us to have an empowerment organization where we’re not at the mercy of the managers who tend to make the schedules based on personal feelings or favoritism, so just so we can get more rights in our workplace.

What happened with the vote in the City Council?

“We won, yes, we won, so that feels really great, cause this has been a long fight, and we been waiting for this day, and I feel like we had victory. It’s going to make things a whole lot better, like I said, more empowerment. I feel we’ll be treated with dignity and respect, and we can do something about it, rather than laying down and taking it, we can actually do something about it and I feel this can help us because, you know, if you don’t fight for what you need, if you don’t stand for something, you fall for everything. I think this will help everybody see that you have to fight and it’s worth it and were worth it and we deserve it.”