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S.F. Bay Area City to Consider 'Fair Workweek' Policy

The San Francisco Bay Area city of Emeryville will address income inequality by studying an idea for hourly workers to have more stability and predictability at their jobs, according to the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE). East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy_logo_feature

If the City Council approves a “fair workweek” policy, it would mark another milestone for the more than 11,200 residents and anyone working in the municipality. Already, the city near Oakland has approved a $16 minimum wage, which will be the highest in the country when it goes into effect.

The March 15 decision by the Emeryville City Council to study this idea in more detail follows a new report from EBASE, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and The Center for Popular Democracy.

That report found that 68 percent of workers surveyed only have part-time hours. About 66 percent of the workers want more hours from their employers. For 80 percent of the workers, their hours change each week. This instability is forcing workers to have two or three jobs, EBASE said.

“Workers need to know they have a paycheck they can count on from week to week to make ends meet,” Jennifer Lin, deputy director of EBASE, said in a statement. “They also need predictable hours so they can schedule child care, college and even just rest. The minimum wage is the floor. We need more. Workers need fair wages and fair hours.”

Before the City Council met last week, workers held a press conference to raise awareness about passage of such a policy.

“This policy will prevent cancelled shifts and last-minute scheduling changes that make it hard to have a routine, go back to school or even think of starting a business,” Alejandra Del Toro, a retail worker at the Bay Street Mall, said in a statement.

Workers and grassroots allies hope the city will approve a policy calling for work schedules to be posted three weeks in advance. They also want current workers to have the right of first refusal for additional hours from an employer, as compared to having a temporary or new employee take the shift.

Community advocates and workers also are calling for enough time for people to rest between shifts. They also want workers to be able to make scheduling requests and refuse shifts with no retaliation from employers.

East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, which is based in Oakland, works on bringing economic equity to communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

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