Insider NJ

Workers, Labor & Community Leaders, Elected Officials Launch Fair Work Week Campaign In N.J.

Senator Loretta Weinberg joins Fair Work Week Launch to Draw Attention to Unfair Scheduling Practices

Insider NJ — October 4, 2019

Teaneck, NJ, October, 16, 2019 — Today, dozens of workers, labor & community leaders, joined Senator Loretta Weinberg in Teaneck, NJ to draw attention to racial and gender disparities in scheduling practices and to launch a campaign to win a fair work week in New Jersey. The launch of #FairWorkWeekNJ came on the heels of a new report by UC Berkeley researchers released today on new federal data on unfair scheduling practices.

Workers in low-wage hourly jobs in the warehouse, retail, hospitality, and fast-food industries are facing unpredictable work hours and fluctuating weekly income. These practices hinder low-wage workers and their families from earning wages that help them provide for their families and have detrimental health effects on workers and the development of their children.

Increasingly prevalent in retail, food service, and other low-wage industries, "just-in-time" scheduling is the practice of using sophisticated workforce management technologies to micro-adjust workers' hours in response to fluctuations in customer demand. "Just-in-time" scheduling allows corporations to shift risk onto front-line workers, who increasingly can't predict when they will work, are often called in or sent home at a moment's notice, and are expected to be available whenever their worksite is operating, though they are kept from working enough hours to survive.

The Fair Work Week NJ campaign aims to fight for fair, predictable scheduling for low wage workers in New Jersey. More than a dozen community and labor organizations have joined the campaign, including Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, CIR-SEIU, CWA New Jersey, Hotel Trades Council, Make the Road New Jersey, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Working Families Alliance, New Labor, SEIU 32BJ, United for Respect, Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board, Workers United/SEIU!, Warehouse Workers Stand Up and UNITE HERE Local 100.

New Jersey can stop the most abusive scheduling practices and make a difference for workers by updating existing labor laws. Currently, New Jersey labor laws do not require employers to provide hourly workers any minimum advance notice of their schedules, build in a mandatory minimum number of rest hours in between each worker's shifts, or compensate workers for being on-call if they are not required to remain on the employer's premises and are free to engage in their own pursuits.

"I am a temporary warehouse worker and a mother. In many instances, my boss told me if I did not stay to work until 8, I would lose my job. I had no choice but to stay. I need my job to help my family pay for the necessities. But I also need to be there for my daughter so she can grow and be healthy. We need labor laws to help permit that temporary workers, like me, have control over our work hours so we can care for our families and our community. Thank you Senator Weinberg for supporting working women and our families." said Nidia Rodriguez, Make the Road New Jersey member.

Senator Loretta Weinberg said: "Work schedule uncertainty is an unnecessary and degrading feature of many workplaces today. I am proud to stand with Make the Road and other advocate-partners in fighting for fair scheduling practices in New Jersey."

Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake said: "Make the Road New Jersey builds the power of working-class people throughout the State of New Jersey by organizing, and together with Senator Loretta Weinberg, I proudly stand in solidarity with the organization's dedicated members to advocate for a fair work week. Together, we can transform New Jersey's support for its working class, uplifting communities and creating a voice for the voiceless."

"Workers deserve to have a say in the times and days that they work. Irregular and last minute scheduling can wreak havoc on workers and their families' lives. Both workers and employers benefit when employees have regular predictable schedules, advance notice of their shifts, and a number of hours that they can count on a week. We need to update labor laws in New Jersey to reflect the growth in certain industries engaged in unpredictable scheduling." said Yarrow Willman-Cole, Workplace Justice Program Director at New Jersey Citizen Action.

"You have to be a pet groomer to get full-time hours at PetSmart. I have fibromyalgia and it was too painful to groom pets, so I was stuck in part-time where my work hours would change with little notice," said Jamie Pasqualetto a United for Respect leader and PetSmart associate of seven years from Northern New Jersey. "People who work in retail deserve predictable schedules and advance notice when we're expected to work. My store was understaffed and I got called in last-minute almost every week, but I couldn't afford to decline even when I was sick or had care-giving responsibilities for my mom. We should be able to decline last-minute shifts, or get paid extra for taking them."

Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU Vice President and NJ State Director said: "There are consequences that ripple throughout the economy when working families can't work consistently. Working families and individuals have the opportunity to thrive when they have consistency in their work schedule. As a parent, I know that having a consistent schedule is imperative to our household and benefit my children. Employers need to know that these are peoples' lives, and last minute changes force parents to make choices that they shouldn't have to make. A fair work week would level the playing field, keep people healthy and keep workers on the job."

Ederle Vaughan, SEIU 32BJ leader said: "As a single mother, I work very hard to make ends meet. At a working age, the children in my household became employed to help supplement our family's growing expenses. Unfortunately, my daughter was a victim of unfair scheduling at this job, she worked between 20 to 30+ hours per week. She was assigned to evening/night shifts and also was obligated to work all weekends, and was maintained on call during peak seasons. Due to the hectic schedules she was given, she didn't get enough rest, which caused her health to deteriorate and her grades in school plummeted. That is why I am here, to fight for better protections for people like my daughter. If we want to create a healthy community and have everyone thrive, we need employers to provide scheduling that is fair and will improve the lives of all working people."

Maricarmen Molina, member of the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board, Workers United, SEIU said: "New Jersey warehouse workers need fair and predictable schedules to support ourselves and our families. All too often warehouse workers experience unstable and erratic schedules that make it hard to make ends meet, to plan for childcare, take classes, keep a doctor's appointment or even have a meal with family. New Jersey warehouse workers can't wait for fair schedules any longer. The time to act is now."

Imani Oakley Esq. of Working Families, said: "It is impossible to be pro-family if you are not pro-labor. While unstable work schedules are merely business as usual to employers, for employees—especially those who are Black and Brown—these schedules place unnecessary strains on raising children and even go as far as threatening the guarantee of a roof over their heads. No hard working parent should have to endure these conditions. It's time for New Jersey to have a fair work week."

Jose Maldonado, UNITEHERE! Local 100 Secretary Treasurer: "Airport workers need to know their schedules two weeks in advance so they can plan the rest of their lives with their families. When workers schedules do change last minute, they deserve to have their sacrifice recognized by a pay premium."

"Too many workers in hourly service jobs can't keep up with unpredictable, last-minute workweeks that make it difficult to predict income, make time for school, or care for children. The Hotel Trades Council is proud to join the Fair Work Week New Jersey campaign: workers and their families in New Jersey deserve better." said Rich Maroko, Hotel Trades Council Vice President and General Counsel.

New Jersey labor laws can guarantee workers with proper notice of schedule changes, time to rest between work shifts, the right to be offered more hours within their stated availability prior to their employer's hiring of more part-time employees, and guaranteed pay for cancelled or on-call shifts that fairly compensates workers for the hours they depended upon. As the service and warehouse industries have rapidly grown in the Garden State, scheduling have not kept up.

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.

Top Top | NJCA Homepage | NJCA in the News