Supervisor Mar Proposes Retail Workers Bill Of Rights

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar introduced legislation today that would encourage retail employers to offer employees full-time employment and discourage them from giving their workers unpredictable hours.

If passed, the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, which would apply to formula retail stores with 11 or more outlets nationwide, would offer protections to 100,000 San Francisco workers, according to Michelle Lim, an organizer with Jobs with Justice, which helped develop the ordinance.

“Workers are not just living paycheck to paycheck, but hour to hour,” Mar said as he introduced the legislation in the Board of Supervisors meeting.

Many retail workers are subject to working hours that change every week, making it difficult to earn a stable wage and arrange for child care with an unpredictable schedule, Lim said.

At a news conference announcing the legislation, former Gap manager Frank Ladra described how his store required employees to be available for at least 28 hours per week but sometimes only employed them for 10.

“Each store slotted only certain full-time hours,” Ladra said.

The Retail Workers Bill of Rights would require businesses to pay employees for four hours of work during periods they were required to be on-call, or when shifts were cancelled with less than 24 hours notice.

The legislation would also require employers to offer additional hours to existing employees before hiring more part-time workers or using a temp agency.

Christy Price, a security officer with 10 years of employment at her company, said her hours have been cut in favor of younger workers. Price has nearly 20 years of experience in the security industry.

“I don’t know if I’m going to make my rent, if I’m going to feed myself,” Price said.

Having stable hours makes it easier for workers to take on second jobs, which is often a necessity as the cost of living increases in San Francisco, according to the legislation’s advocates.

Supervisor David Chiu, an ordinance co-sponsor, said, “We are in the midst of an affordability crisis.”

The Board of Supervisors voted today to send a measure that would raise San Francisco’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018 to the November ballot.

But raising the minimum wage isn’t enough to protect workers, Mar said.

“We just want a schedule that is predictable so we can have a life,” former Safeway employee Julissa Hernandez said.

The Board of Supervisors will hold hearings on the legislation in September, Mar said.

Drew Himmelstein, Bay City News

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