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NYC sends a message by banning on-call scheduling

Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, www.rwdsu.org | 6/8/2017, 1:31 p.m.
Working in retail in New York City can be a tough way to make a living.
Stuart Appelbaum

Working in retail in New York City can be a tough way to make a living. Low wages and insufficient hours can make it a struggle just to get by. And, until now, retail workers have faced the brutal practice known as on-call scheduling. But finally, thanks to a new law passed by the New York City Council that Mayor de Blasio is set to sign soon, on-call scheduling will be a thing of the past.

The RWDSU is proud to have led the fight against on-call scheduling, which disrupts workers’ lives and their families’ lives by requiring them to keep themselves available when they are not scheduled to work, with no guarantee of an actual work shift. We work with retail workers, both unionized and nonunionized, every day. And we know how on-call scheduling has made it impossible for workers to take a needed second job or plan for the basic necessities of their lives, including child care, education or medical care. That’s why the passage of Intro. 1387 is so important.

The law bans New York City employers from scheduling workers to be on call. Employers will not be able to cancel a shift within 72 hours of the start of the shift, except under extreme conditions, such as a natural disaster. Employers can only add shifts within 72 hours with workers’ consent. The new law takes away from employers a cruel, exploitative computer-driven system designed to optimize employer profits while sacrificing any considerations for working men and women. It will restore control and balance to the lives of working people in New York City.

We applaud the City Council’s action and look forward to the mayor signing this bill into law. The de Blasio administration’s partnership with the RWDSU to support workers sets a national precedent that will be felt across the country. It’s important that more cities recognize the destructive effect of on-call scheduling and ban the practice.

Retail workers deserve to thrive, not just survive. And banning on-call scheduling is an important part of setting an environment in which retail workers can move forward and build better lives.