Arguing that “unpredictable” scheduling makes it tough to get ahead or balance work and family, organized labor and its City Council allies on Tuesday proposed a legislative remedy.
The “Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance” is patterned after similar legislation in San Francisco, Seattle and New York City.
Championed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 881, the ordinance would give hourly employees the scheduling predictability they need to meet their responsibilities at home and work without being forced to choose between the two.
If the City Council approves, employers would be required to give their hourly workers at least two weeks’ advance notice of what their work schedules will be.
If a schedule change is made with less than 24 hours notice, the employer would be required to provide one additional hour of pay for each changed shift.
Employers would be required to provide workers a written “good faith estimate” of the employee’s work schedule and minimum hours prior to or on their first day on the job.
And before hiring additional staff, existing employees would have to be offered additional hours. The first right of refusal is aimed at combating “underemployment and underscheduling,” proponents said.
At a City Hall news conference Tuesday, several hourly workers at O’Hare Airport talked openly about how tough it is to care for children and ailing relatives when they learn about what hours they are to work only when the schedule is posted at the start of each workweek.
Aisha Meadows McLaurin is a fast-food worker who puts in 19 to 22 hours a week at $9.50 an hour. She’s a mother and a college student.
That’s a balancing act made more difficult by the fact that she doesn’t know what hours she is assigned to work until the schedule is posted each Monday.
“If I have to work on a day that I have school, something’s got to give. … I can’t go to school that day. I choose work over school because I need money for things for my family,” McLaurin said.
“This bill is what we need to survive.”
Adding insult to injury, McLaurin said, is the fact that she must “kiss up to my manager to get the hours I need” to survive.
“If my manager doesn’t like me or gets into it and says something to me, I’ve got to put the snobby comments she makes to the side so I can actually get put on the schedule so I can have a decent amount of work,” she said.
Danny Rodriquez works as a wheelchair attendant, security officer and weekend shift manager at O’Hare. He also takes care of his grandmother, who suffers from mental illness and requires around-the-clock care.
“Sometimes, I can’t stay home. I can’t be by her side. Either I go to work or I have a chance of getting fired for me calling off. No one should be in that predicament,” Rodriguez said.
Theresa Mintle, the former Rahm Emanuel chief of staff now serving as president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, denounced the scheduling edict as the latest in a series of mandates that would add to the cost of doing business in Chicago.
“Under this ordinance, you would have had to schedule people before you even knew the Cubs were in the playoffs,” she said. “If you don’t serve customers, you potentially lose them. If you over-schedule, you take a hit and pay more for complications. It completely takes away from business owners the ability to manage business based on seasonal fluctuations.”