Warren Tackles Scheduling Reliability in Part-Time Workforce

Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., stands onstage during a Las Vegas fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic Party on Nov. 17. Also pictured are fellow Democratic presidential candidates Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; businessman Andrew Yang; Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J.; and former Maryland Representative John Delaney. (AP Photo/John Locher)

(CN) — Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren dropped her latest plan Tuesday, proposing fairer and more predictable workweeks for America’s 27 million part-time labor force. 

Warren explained that, in the last 10 years, employers have adopted a form of scheduling called “just in time,” which puts workers’ hours, often in the retail and fast food industries, at the mercy of algorithms and their bosses. Female employees of color bear the brunt of this unfairness, Warren said, seeing more exposure to insecure schedules by a margin of a 5-10%.

“In some cases, work assignments change by the hour, based on factors like customer demand, the time of day, the time of year, or even weather,” Warren said in the new plan

She cited a recent study by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at University of California, Berkeley, that found 80% of employees have little to no input on their schedules, and 70% are expected to be available to work anytime. A full quarter must be on call, ready to drop everything and report to work on little notice.
“This kind of uncertainty makes it nearly impossible for people to plan other parts of their lives,” Warren wrote. “Try scheduling child care when you don’t know whether you’ll be working 15 hours or 30 hours next week. … Try scheduling night classes when you don’t know when or if you’ll be forced to work the night shift. Try planning out a real budget when your boss can send you home in the middle of a shift and cut your pay because there are no customers.”

Warren also noted that many part-time workers actually want to be full-time, but aren’t assigned enough hours, which she called a strategic practice by employers to keep costs down and avoid paying benefits. 

She commended cities and states that have passed fair-workweek laws and said her federal policies as president would build on the practices of San Francisco, New York City, Oregon and others. 

A Warren presidency would require all employers with 15 or more employees to provide set schedules at least two weeks in advance, with employees getting a say in what hours they work. She would also mandate that workers have 11 hours to rest between shifts and would require employers to hire people full-time before bringing on additional part-time help. 

“American workers have too little power and it allows big companies to rake in giant profits while squeezing working families to the breaking point,” Warren wrote. 

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