San Francisco passes nation’s first Retail Workers Bill of Rights

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in a unanimous vote Nov. 25, passed a pair of city ordinances that intervene forcefully on the side of workers jerked around by big chain employers.

The measures affect chain retail and food stores with 20 or more locations worldwide that have 20 or more employees in San Francisco. Starting next summer, the companies will be required to give workers their schedules at least two weeks in advance, and pay workers one hour of pay for schedule changes made with less than a week’s notice, and two to four hours for changes made with less than 24 hours’ notice.

Workers will also get compensation for “on-call” hours, and when they’re sent home early from their assigned shifts. And employers will be required to offer extra hours to current part-time workers before bringing on more part-time or temporary workers. Janitorial and security contractors for the retailers will face the same requirements.

The ordinances are a reaction to the widespread adoption of just-in-time scheduling, with companies using software to decide at the last minute how many workers are needed based on traffic, sales, and even weather. Backed by a labor-community coalition led by Jobs with Justice San Francisco, the ordinances will improve the lives of an estimated 40,000 hourly workers, about 5 percent of the city’s workforce.

Other cities and states are reportedly considering similar measures, including New York City, Washington D.C., Milwaukee, and Santa Clara, and Minnesota, Delaware, New York and Michigan.

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