Three years ago we wrote, “Seattle’s Scheduling Law Sparks National Interest: “The New $15 Minimum Wage.” Backers of such things boast that what happens in Seattle doesn’t stay in Seattle. Often, they’re right. From our 2016 blog post:
An article in the Atlantic, “Predictable Schedules Are the New $15 Minimum Wage,” would seem to confirm the claim, while extending it to a pair of coastal thinkalikes. Adam Chandler writes,
If it takes three examples to label something a fad, then San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City have collectively been some of American labor’s most prolific trendsetters. In recent years, the three coastal cities were among the first and highest-profile polities to instate a $15 minimum wage, efforts that begot statewide regulations in California and New York and inspired legislation around the country. This urban triumvirate is also part of a handful of American cities to adopt paid-sick-leave policies in recent years.
Labor activists have their sights set on their next priority after successes in state capitols with paid sick leave and higher minimum wage: better working conditions for people who do shift work…
The effort has been described by some in the labor movement as the “next $15 minimum wage,” with major cities adopting fair workweekordinances and several Democratic presidential candidates taking up the cause on the campaign trail.
Emily Makings with the WRC points out it’s been slow sledding.
…just six cities (including Seattle) and one state (Oregon) have enacted scheduling laws. In the Washington Legislature earlier this year, a statewide scheduling bill was introduced but not passed. (I compared the proposed state bill to Seattle’s ordinance here.)
Makings links to a Washington Research Council report identifying the significant downsides of the policy: By Mandating A Specific Compensation Mix, Labor Policies Take Flexibility Out of the Equation and another post of ours examining surveys finding “most retail and restaurant employees satisfied with their schedules; little support for ‘secure scheduling’ ordinance.”
As with the $15 minimum wage, the strategy continues to be to initiate policy change in progressive cities to boost national momentum.
“It’s a lot of the same pattern,” said Rachel Deutsch, who leads the national Fair Workweek campaign for the Center for Popular Democracy. “Some of our most progressive cities really championed these ideas that at first corporate America dismissed. But once we established that no, this is real, and it works, we got states to embrace [these policies].”
Reports from businesses in these pilot cities, though, may give others pause.
Business and industry groups, however, fear these types of regulations will cause disruptions — not just for companies, but also for workers.
Jacque Coe, a spokesperson for the Seattle Restaurant Alliance, said that since the city of Seattle implemented a fair workweek law two years ago, restaurant managers have complained that they spend more time doing paperwork and must pay workers more if they pick up any last-minute catering gigs, and that the rigid scheduling has made it more of a headache for workers to trade shifts…
Jeff Solsby, a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association, concurred. He said that these policies are a “one-size-fits-all” attempt to fix something that both workers and businesses aren’t asking to be solved.
Politico reports that national politicians have picked up the theme. As well,
Deutsch, of the national Fair Workweek campaign, said several states are primed to adopt fair workweek policies. The Massachusetts Legislature held hearings on a bill in the spring, and she predicts that Washington state,New Jersey and Connecticut will enact measures in the 2020 session.
Something else to watch.