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Schedule abuse

From an open letter by Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick:

Across the country, retail firms are using new scheduling technology to squeeze every last dollar out of their workers—at enormous cost.

With constant, last-minute schedule changes and shift combinations that allow less than 7 hours of sleep, it’s throwing low-income parents into lives of perpetual crisis, as they struggle to arrange for childcare, plan their lives, and stay healthy. In the Oregonian, Steve Duin says it’s turning “low-income parents into the Walking Dead.”

I call it abusive scheduling, and it has to stop.

One of the proudest moments of my service on the City Council was our unanimous vote to guarantee some paid sick leave to every employee in Portland. We provided the leadership the state of Oregon needed on that day, and I want to do it again for this pressing issue.

We can solve this problem. One example we could use was set by the City of San Francisco, where they passed a law that requires workers to be given at least two weeks’ notice of their shifts, or get extra pay for short-notice shifts.

But there’s a catch—as part of some deals that were struck in the last legislative session, the Oregon State Legislature voted to prohibit local governments like the City of Portland from acting on scheduling protection until July 2017.

This is where I part ways with some people in my own party. Because low-income families can’t wait until July 2017. They need help now. Our state government should either protect low-income parents right away – by enacting statewide legislation in the 2016 short session – or at least repeal the preemption and let the City of Portland lead.

Over the coming months, I’ll be raising my voice and working with my colleagues at the City of Portland and in the state legislature to get this resolved.

So please, call your legislators (get contact information here) and ask for action on abusive scheduling in February. And if you or a person you know is being hurt by scheduling practices like this, please respond to this email with your story. I’d love to hear from you.

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