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Congress Reintroduces Legislation to Curb Abusive Scheduling Practices

Kim Mitchell, a Local 400 member and Macy’s employee, speaks at a press conference announcing the reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts announced the reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act, a bill that would allow workers to request greater stability in their work scheduling.

The Schedules That Work Act would provide workers modest safeguards and begin to curb the most abusive scheduling practices. The bill includes a presumption that workers who need a schedule change due to child care, school, a second job, or medical needs will receive that change unless there is a bona fide business reason not to. The legislation also provides retail workers with two weeks advanced notice of their schedules and guarantees minimum pay when they are sent home from work before completing their entire shift.

Warren was joined by Representative Mark Takano of California’s 41st District and Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut’s 3rd District, as well as speakers from the Center for Popular Democracy, the National Women’s Law Center, and UFCW Local 400 member and Macy’s employee Kim Mitchell.

All of the speakers emphasized the toll that irregular and often insufficient scheduling can have on families. Several speakers also mentioned how this issue is compounded by an unreasonably low minimum wage.

Senator Warren described her particular connection to the issue, as the child of a woman who was able to support her family because of a minimum wage job that offered her a regularly scheduled forty hour work week.

Mitchell echoed much of Warren’s sentiment, recalling a time when retail was seen as a more economically viable lifelong career. As a member of Local 400 with a union contract at Macy’s, Mitchell receives her schedule a month in advance. But advance notice alone is not enough to offer workers the stability they need. All of the speakers expressed hope that this bill would help workers keep the jobs they value, and in turn be valued appropriately for the work they provide.

Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, issued the following statement regarding the reintroduction of the Schedules That Work Act.  

“When a person’s work schedule varies widely from week to week, it brings chaos to both family life and family finances. The Schedules That Work Act is a common sense piece of legislation that will help hard-working men and women have more control over their lives. Smart, flexible, and reliable scheduling is the best way to ensure every family is able to build the better life they’ve earned and deserve.”

When asked about the possibility of some overlap between the Schedules that Work Act and a bill introduced by House Republicans that would allow employers to offer paid time off instead of overtime pay, Representative DeLauro expressed little hope for cooperation and was skeptical that the two bills had potential for common ground.

Updated with a statement from UFCW International President Marc Perrone

Members Lead Fight for Maryland Earned Sick Leave Bill

A team of Local 400 members played a pivotal role in winning passage of the Healthy Working Families Act in Maryland.

Local 400 Shop Stewards Darlene Butler-Jones and Bill Osborn had never gone to Annapolis to meet with their state legislators, testified before the Maryland General Assembly or spoken out at rallies before. So when they were asked to help lead Local 400’s campaign to pass the Healthy Working Families Act, they were a bit taken aback. But after four months of working full-time to make paid leave a right for all Maryland workers, they were fired up and thrilled with the results.

“I wouldn’t trade it for a dime,” said Darlene, who is a meat cutter at Giant #347 in Largo. Bill, a dairy clerk at Giant #339 in La Plata, echoed her sentiments, saying, “It was a really enriching experience.”

Darlene, Bill and three of their Local 400 brothers and sisters played a pivotal role in winning passage of the legislation by a 29-18 vote in the Senate on March 16 and an 87-53 margin in the House on April 7. The bill would allow full-time and part-time workers at Maryland employers with 15 or more employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to five full days per year for full-time workers, benefiting more than 510,000 Marylanders who are currently unable to earn paid sick leave.

Darlene Butler-Jones (left) poses for a photo with a fellow Local 400 member. Darlene was part of a team of union members gathered support for the Healthy Working Families Act in Maryland.

For Darlene, this was personal. “When I started work at Giant 20 years ago, I was widowed with young children,” she said. “I had no sick leave. When my children came home with bumps and bruises or when they got sick, I had to choose between their health and my paycheck. That’s a position no one should ever be placed into.”

Bill Osborn testified about the challenges the single mothers he works with face. “I see them struggle when their kid is sick,” he said. “If they can’t take their kid to day care, how do single parents make it if they don’t have paid leave?

“It’s only fair to have paid leave,” Bill said. “Employers owe it to their employees.”

Darlene and Bill were invigorated by their experience. “It’s been very educational because I’ve learned a lot—I didn’t know how long and tedious it is to get a law passed,” Darlene said. “But it’s rewarding, too—you get to meet people from all walks of life telling their stories. You realize how sick leave and a higher minimum wage means so much and makes people better citizens and more productive workers.

“Today, I can tell my 12-year-old granddaughter, ‘When you go to work, you’ll have paid sick leave, and you can know that your grandmother and her friends were a part of making that happen,’” she said.

“From the very first day, the first rally in Annapolis, we learned the process,” Bill said. “We encouraged our members to support the bill. We canvassed door to door in certain areas. We sat in on a lot of the committee meetings and legislative sessions. Each of us testified and talked about how it affected us.

“It was so satisfying knowing we were there from right at the beginning to all the way when the bill was sent to the governor,” he said. “It was inspiring and it motivated me to be more involved in other bills and to take steps in our union to help others understand the process.”

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has threatened the veto the Healthy Working Families Act. Darlene, Bill and the three other team members are mobilizing public pressure on Hogan to sign the bill, but if he vetoes it, they’ll fight to get the House and Senate to override his vetoes. If no senator and delegate changes his or her vote, then the override will be successful and the bill will become law.

“If he vetoes it, I’ll be right back doing this all over again,” Darlene said.  “Without a doubt. Call me and I’ll be there.

“Each and every Local 400 member should get out, stand up for themselves, learn about politics and don’t be afraid to talk,” she added. “That’s the real lesson of this experience.”

New Law Guarantees Eight Weeks of Paid Leave for New Parents in D.C.

Photo via Pexels

Starting in 2020, D.C. workers can take up to two weeks of paid sick leave, six weeks paid time off to care for sick loved ones and eight weeks of paid time off for new parents

In a landmark victory for workers in the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia has enacted universal paid leave legislation, providing one of the nation’s most progressive packages of family and medical leave benefits.

The Universal Paid Leave Act provides that workers can take up to two weeks of paid leave to treat their own personal health issues and up to six weeks of paid leave to support a loved one who is seriously ill or dying. New parents will have the right to take up to eight weeks of paid leave, making D.C. the first jurisdiction in the country to provide equal parental leave to all mothers and fathers, regardless of whether they are adoptive, foster or birth parents.

It covers anyone who works in D.C.’s private and nonprofit sectors, including part-time workers, tipped workers, and self-employed residents. It is funded by a 0.62 percent payroll tax on employers. The law provides for the payroll tax collection to begin in 2019 and eligible employees will begin receiving the benefit in 2020.

The D.C. Council passed the measure by a 9 to 4 vote in December, and Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to veto the legislation in February. As with all laws in the District, the bill now goes to Congress for review and is expected to become law in early April.

The overwhelmingly popular legislation was supported by about 80% of District residents. Washington, D.C., now joins California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island in mandating paid leave. Only 12 percent of Americans have access to paid family leave from their employer, and unlike almost every other nation in the world, the United States does not provide any form of paid time off for new mothers.

“No one should ever have to choose between a paycheck and their family,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Thanks to the D.C. City Council, most workers in the nation’s capital won’t have to make that horrible choice anymore. They will be able to take care of themselves when they’re sick and take care of their loved ones without sacrificing their ability to feed their families and pay the rent or mortgage. We congratulate all nine Council Members who had the courage to do the right thing in the face of fierce business opposition.”

“Passage of the Universal Paid Leave Act demonstrates the power of families who united across the District around the shared need for vital benefits,” said Local 400’s Dyana Forester, who lives in Ward 7, and helped organize a broad-based coalition of more than 200 organizations that led to victory.

The Universal Paid Leave Act was introduced by Councilmembers Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and David Grosso (I-At Large). Also voting for it were Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Robert White (D-At Large) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large).

D.C. Council Advances Expansive Family and Medical Leave Rules

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The Council of the District of Columbia not only moved the Universal Paid Leave bill forward on Dec. 6, but restored medical leave to the program. The proposal now includes eight weeks of parental leave, six weeks of family leave and two weeks of medical leave, making it one of the nation’s most generous packages of family and medical leave benefits.

“Today’s vote demonstrates the power of families who united across the District around the shared need for vital benefits,” said Ward 7 resident Dyana Forester of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, which represents grocery and retail workers, many of whom are workers of color. “Now it’s up to the council and mayor to take the final step to make it a reality.”

The final vote on paid family leave is scheduled for Dec. 20. Mayor Muriel Bowser has still not indicated if she will ultimately support the bill, despite the backing over 80% of Washington, D.C., residents.

Read the details of the paid family leave bill.

Originally posted by Chris Garlock at AFL-CIO

District of Columbia Set to Enact $15 Minimum Wage

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Nation’s capital will join Seattle and San Francisco to become third major city to enact $15 minimum wage

On Tuesday, July 21, the District of Columbia City Council passed historic legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour in a major victory for the “Fight For $15” movement. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has pledged to sign the bill, which will make the nation’s capital the third major city to pass a $15 minimum wage, along with Seattle and San Francisco.

The $15 hourly wage could impact as many as 114,000 working people in the District, or around 14 percent of the city’s workforce, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.

On July 1st, the city’s minimum wage will increase from $10.50/hour to $11.50/hour under previous legislation championed by Local 400 and others. The new bill will provide annual increases to the minimum wage beginning in 2017 until it reaches $15/hour in 2020. After that, it will be adjusted for inflation each year.

Yearly Minimum Wage Increases in Washington, D.C.

July 2016 – $11.50

July 2017 – $12.50

July 2018 – $13.25

July 2019 – $14.00

July 2020 – $15.00

Local 400 has been leading the Fight for $15 in the District of Columbia and other states where our members live and work. But while we praise the D.C. Council members and Mayor Bowser for enacting the $15 minimum wage, we’ve also called on them to take two other steps essential to improve the lives of D.C. workers:

Pass Just Hours legislation (also known as the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act) to guarantee stable hours and predictable scheduling for  men and women working in chain restaurants and retail stores in the District.

Pass the Universal Paid Leave Act to help low-wage workers safeguard themselves and their families in the event they are without income for an extended period.

“While wage increases are a crucial and necessary step, wages alone are not enough to give every hardworking District resident a fair shot at a better life,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “We look forward to seeing the Council demonstrate this same leadership in passing Just Hours legislation, which will guarantee District workers won’t struggle with too few hours on too short notice, as well as Paid Family Leave, which will bring the U.S. up to speed with other developed nations by providing reasonable accommodations to workers who choose to start a family.

“It’s important that all workers earn the income that would allow them to support a family—and that their jobs provide the predictability and flexibility that allow them to actually raise a family,” Federici said. “That’s why paid leave and fair scheduling practices are so essential—because parents must be empowered to both provide for and be present for their children.”

Take Action

Do you live or work in Washington, D.C.?

Call the city council at (202) 724-8000 and Mayor Muriel Bowser at (202) 727-2643 and urge them to pass the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act and the Universal Paid Leave Act.

For the latest information on each bill, visit dcjusthours.org and dcpaidfamilyleave.org.

Earned Sick Days Passes Maryland House of Delegates

The galleries were full of earned sick days supporters as the  House of Delegates debated the Healthy Working Families Act last week. Photo via Working Matters.

The galleries were full of earned sick days supporters as the
House of Delegates debated the Healthy Working Families Act last week. Photo via Working Matters.

Legislation Passes 84-54 With One Week Remaining in Session

Reposted from our friends at Working Matters, a coalition of more than 150 organizations committed to advancing the Maryland Campaign for Paid Sick Days.

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 84-54 today to approve legislation that would allow Maryland workers to earn up to seven paid sick days per year.

The successful House vote marks the furthest the bill has ever advanced within the Maryland General Assembly. The Healthy Working Families Act (HB 580/SB472) now awaits action in the Senate, where it currently remains in the Senate Finance Committee.

“Today, the House of Delegates underscored that Maryland families can’t wait any longer for earned sick leave,” said lead House sponsor Delegate Luke Clippinger. “With this vote, we are one giant step closer to ensuring that hundreds of thousands of working Marylanders no longer have to make the impossible choice between their health and their job, between the well-being of their families and their economic security.”

Also today, in a letter delivered to Senate President Miller and every member of the Senate, nearly 100 religious leaders from denominations and congregations across the State called upon the Maryland State Senate to act swiftly in passing a strong earned sick days bill. “When the health of workers is compromised by illness, they need time away from work to heal without fear of losing their jobs,” the faith leaders wrote. “People should not need to choose between earning an income to support themselves and their families or taking the time to restore their health or that of their family members.”

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that more than 700,000 Marylanders — nearly 40 percent of the state’s workforce — are unable to earn paid sick days to use when they or a family member are ill.

An October 2015 poll conducted by the University of Maryland/Washington Post found that 83 percent of voters support allowing workers to earn a limited number of annual paid sick days. This support was broad across key voting blocs, including 91 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans.

Specifically, the Healthy Working Families Act will:

  • Allow Maryland workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to seven full days (56 hours) of paid sick days per year.
  • Allow part-time workers to accrue fewer days per year, depending on the number of hours worked.
  • Permit employers with existing paid leave standards to maintain those policies as long as they comply with the minimum requirements of the Act.

With just over a week remaining in this year’s state legislative session, supporters of earned sick days – including faith leaders, community advocates, public health officials, nonprofit executives, parents with their children, and Maryland workers unable to earn paid sick days – will continue to rally in front of the State House each morning to greet senators as they head into floor sessions, and to urge passage of the Healthy Working Families Act.

To date, five states and 24 cities or counties – including Montgomery County, MD – have enacted earned sick days measures, either through legislation or voter-driven ballot initiatives, and more wins are on the horizon.

Take Action to Ensure Swift Passage in Senate

With only one week remaining in Maryland’s legislative session, your Senator needs to hear why there’s no reason to wait until 2017 to pass the Healthy Working Families Act.  The bill has been vetted for four years and is ready to go, as is evidenced by action taken in the House. Please click here to ask for your Senator’s help in bringing the bill to a vote.

BREAKING NEWS: Earned Sick Days Headed to Maryland House Floor

Reposted from our friends at Working Matters, a coalition of more than 150 organizations committed to advancing the Maryland Campaign for Paid Sick Days.

YOU DID IT!  After four years of tireless advocacy, earned sick days legislation is headed to the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates!

The bill was voted out of the Economic Matters Committee late yesterday and is expected to be debated on the House floor this morning.

As momentum continues to build and we approach final passage in the House, we must rapidly turn our attention to the Maryland State Senate, where we need the leadership of Senate President Mike Miller to ensure passage in 2016.

Call Senate President Miller (410) 841-3700

Please take a quick moment today to call the office of Senate President Miller.  It couldn’t be easier and will only take a moment. We’ve pasted a sample script below so that you’ll know exactly what to say when an aide answers the phone.

Senate President Miller
(410) 841-3700

Sample Phone Script:

My name is ________ and I live in ________, Maryland. I’m calling to ask for Senate President Miller’s leadership on earned sick days legislation, known as Senate Bill 472.  More than 700,000 Marylanders can’t afford to wait another year for earned paid sick days.  It’s time for a Senate vote. Thank you!

With only 11 days remaining in the legislative session, please make a call today! Encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.

For real time updates as the bill progresses on the House floor, follow Working Matters on Facebook and Twitter.