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Seattle workers push for secure and predictable schedules

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SEATTLE - There’s a new push for worker’s rights in Seattle, that could gain traction in other cities in the region, just like the minimum wage hike did.

This time, the demand is for “secure schedules”.

Tuesday, dozens of frustrated workers urged Seattle City Councilmembers to require employers to post schedules at least two-weeks in advance, among other workplace reforms.

“In a high volume store like the one I work at,” said Starbucks employee Joy McMillan. “Sometimes I will be called in very last minute on a very busy day, on my off day.”

Other workers at the public hearing claimed they’ve suffered from erratic, unpredictable work schedules, which makes it hard to plan their lives and even to raise children.

“My time doesn’t matter to a large corporation,” said Damien Sojquist, who also works at Starbucks.  “It’s very easy for them to while away my hours, to burn away my free time, to keep me in an unpredictable state.”

But employers, even those who are sympathetic to better scheduling, to worry about losing flexibility.

“I do have some concerns about some of the components which will limit my ability to offer my staff what they most want, which is flexibility,” said  Sara Nelson, owner of the Fremont Brewing Company.

Here are the main elements of Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Plan:

  • Retail/food services with at least 500 employees
  • Two-week schedule notice
  • “Predictability pay” for schedule changes
  • 10-hour rest between shifts
  • Offer new hours to existing workers

The Council is expected to hear more testimony on the plan later this month and vote sometime later.

Many outside of Seattle will take note of what Seattle does with this proposal.  Just like Seattle’s higher minimum wage put pressure on other cities in the area, this could have the same effect.