Seattle city council unanimously passes “secure scheduling” law

This isn’t really a surprise. 

The Seattle Times reports,

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a “secure scheduling” law on Monday, making Seattle the second major U.S. city to regulate how large retailers and food-service employers schedule their workers.

Approval was expected, as the draft bill had passed out of committee last week with the five council members present all voting for it. The five represent a majority on the nine-member council.

As we’ve written before, the measure became a political priority despite evidence most employees were satisfied with their schedules, most business organizations opposed it, and a strong editorial observation that the measure went against the city’s innovative business culture. Still, as Seattle Times reporter Janet I. Tu writes, the measure has become the next rallying point (after minimum wage and paid leave) for organized labor.

Now, there’s a push by labor advocates for scheduling laws. San Francisco was the first major city to pass, in 2014, a scheduling law covering chain stores and eateries. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month said he intends to introduce legislation regulating scheduling practices at fast-food restaurants…

Councilmember M. Lorena González, one of the council members who spearheaded the effort, said: “We are shifting the power to workers.”

Business groups expected passage. From the Times report,

The Washington Retail Association said it would not be commenting Monday. The association has opposed the scheduling law, saying it would lead to reduced work hours and less flexibility for retail employees.

Meadow Johnson, senior vice president of external relations at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said: “The city’s survey showed that many hourly employees in Seattle are already satisfied with how their employers handle scheduling, so we will continue to work closely with our members to ensure that the rules do not negatively impact the flexibility their employees value.”

On the Washington Restaurant Association website, this comment:

We worked hard on behalf of our members to create the best scheduling policy outcomes for employees and restaurateurs that won’t remove the flexibility employees enjoy.

We are pleased that in working with the city and labor advocates we made some positive moves through amendment additions that will benefit employees.

The trend toward municipal regulation of employment policy seems to have caught on in Seattle. In our foundation report we noted that these policy experiments create challenges for employers.

In addition to the absolute costs of these measures, and the challenge they create in competing with other employers not subject to the same mandates, local governments’ wage and bene t regulations create compliance problems for employers operating in multiple jurisdictions.

Seattle Mayor says he’ll sign the law soon. It’s expected to take effect in July.