Retail Action Project Launches Sustainable Scheduling Campaign

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For Immediate Release:
 October 10, 2012 
Contact: Yana Walton
E-mail: yana@retailactionproject.org
Office: 646.490.5925
Cell: 646.453.9816

RETAIL WORKERS FIGHT FOR THE 40 HOUR WORK WEEK:
RETAIL ACTION PROJECT LAUNCHES SUSTAINABLE SCHEDULING CAMPAIGN

New York, NY – Retail workers from the Retail Action Project (RAP) are launching a Sustainable Scheduling Campaign to address the underemployment crisis caused by corporate retailers’ unpredictable, part-time scheduling practices. Employers’ “just-in-time” scheduling practices, facilitated by new technology, are shifting the burden of market fluctuations onto retail workers. The Sustainable Scheduling Campaign aims to give workers stable, predictable and livable work hours.

RAP members are joined by a broad coalition of supporters, including the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW), A Better Balance, and the National Employment Law Project to target retailers who engage in the most abusive types of scheduling practices. Such practices include the use of “on-call” shifts, being sent home without reporting pay, last minute notice of schedules, and schedules being changed without employee consent.

First on the campaign’s list of worst players, is Abercrombie & Fitch, where RAP members are uniting to to stop abusive call-in shifts and guarantee workers stable hours instead. RAP Member Bintou Kamara has started a petition to ask Abercrombie to give her a fair schedule that she can live of off. On Wednesday, October 17th at 11am, retail workers and their allies rally on 5th Avenue & 56th Street to kick off the fight for Sustainable Schedules.  Press are invited.

Bintou says “We aren’t getting enough hours – Abercrombie gives us more call-in shifts than regular hours. We have to be available for on-call shifts, get ready for work, and then call in with no guarantee that we’ll even work. I’ve only been called in to work twice! Even worse, we can get disciplined for calling in more than an hour before our shift or for being unavailable. I have the right to a stable paycheck, and these on-call shifts make it difficult for us to have another job, go to school, or to arrange for childcare.”

Carrie Gleason, Retail Action Project’s Executive Director says, “Low-wage hourly workers are experiencing a work-life crisis with unlivable hours and unrelenting demands for open availability. Instead of creating family-sustaining jobs, retail companies are shifting to this part-time flexible workforce in pursuit of short-term profits.”

Employer scheduling practices determine much retail workers take home in pay, whether or not they receive health benefits, and their ability to balance work and life responsibilities. Worse, workers are excluded from unemployment insurance if they do not work enough hours. Unpredictable schedules disproportionately impact mothers, other caregivers and workers of color – according to RAP’s 2012 survey of NYC retail workers Discounted Jobs.” More than half of caregivers must be available for call-in shifts, forcing them to arrange for child or elder care at the last minute, and more than half of surveyed Black and Latino workers are part-time, compared to just 29% of White workers.

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) says it doesn’t have to be this way. “RWDSU contracts contain some of the best and most innovative practices in the industry. Contracts at Macy’s and Bloomingdales, H&M and other stores have proven that companies can both respect workers’ lives and be enormously profitable at the same time. Some of our contracts guarantee hours for part-time and full-time workers, provide schedules up to 6 months in advance, and only allow scheduling changes by mutual consent.”

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