Groundbreaking Labor Rights Coming Your Way

JWJSF_141126_RWBOR_webJobs with Justice SF led a community and labor coalition that passed a landmark bill of rights for an estimated 40,000 hourly employees of massively profitable chain stores and restaurants. The ordinances are the first meaningful policies in the nation to ensure more people have job schedules with enough hours to plan their lives and take care of their loved ones.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the Retail Workers Bill of Rights. While the mayor did not sign it, it still became law this January and will go into effect in July.

Explaining the need for a bill of rights, Jobs With Justice San Francisco executive director Gordon Mar said the following:

“All families need strong wages, stable hours and sane schedules to build a good life. But too many of our neighbors who serve our food, stock our shelves and sweep our floors have jobs that grant too few hours on too short notice and require them to be at the beck and call of their employers.”

The Crisis of Scheduling

The retail and food service industries are a growing employment sector in the United States, but the jobs are predominantly poor quality, with low wages, part-time schedules and limited employer-provided benefits.

But meager wages alone aren’t to blame. Unpredictable, erratic schedules and inadequate hours keep many people who work in banks, grocery and clothing stores and restaurants living on the brink.

In a growing practice known as “just-in-time scheduling,” many employers use sophisticated computer software to analyze a number of factors, from weather conditions to sales traffic, in order to create schedules that maximize revenue while requiring employees to always be available.

As a result, hourly retail employees have little to no ability to plan for their lives, including basic necessities such as taking care of a loved one, arranging for child care, or even getting a second job to help make ends meet. Approximately half of all hourly workers report having limited control over their work hours, according to the Retail Action Project. In a survey of retail employees in New York City, only 17 percent reported having a set schedule, while more than half only knew their schedules within a week. Jannette Navarro, a 22-year-old single mother working at Starbucks summarized the chaos of her erratic schedule succinctly:

“You’re waiting on your job to control your life.”

Jannette is not alone. The retail and food service workforce is largely made up of women, but the 1.3 million who are working in retail live in or near poverty, according to Amy Traub of Demos, a public policy organization committed to reducing income inequality. In a study released in June, Traub predicts that if present trends continue, “nearly 1.4 million women working in retail and the nearly 2.5 million family members they help to support will be living in or near poverty in 2022.”

By providing stable and sufficient schedules, large retailers could remove a “major obstacle for women trying to work their way out of poverty with retail jobs,” according to Traub.
After a damning New York Times article exposing Jannette Navarro’s unnecessarily stressful work schedule, Starbucks executives said they would revise their scheduling policies for 130,000 employees. But despite widespread protests from men and women employed at Walmart and fast food chains to raise wages and provide stable schedules, companies like McDonald’s and Walmart continue to intentionally deny employees more hours and implement scheduling systems that wreak havoc on their employees’ ability to take care of their families. Instead of waiting for corporations to act, advocates like Jobs With Justice San Francisco are galvanizing community support to push policymakers to address abusive scheduling practices in the retail industry.

A Groundbreaking Labor Policy

The Retail Workers Bill of Rights is a package of two separate pieces of legislation – the “Hours and Retention Protections for Formula Retail Employees,” introduced in July by Supervisor Eric Mar, and the “Fair Scheduling and Treatment of Formula Retail Employees,” introduced by Supervisor David Chiu in September. Together, the ordinances contain five major provisions to curb abusive scheduling practices at corporate retailers:

Promoting Full-Time Work and Access to Hours
To encourage full-time employment, employers must offer more hours to existing part-time employees before hiring additional part-time workers.

Encouraging Fair, Predictable Schedules
To discourage erratic, unpredictable scheduling practices, employers will be required to post schedules at least two weeks in advance. Employees will receive one hour of pay at their regular rate of pay for schedule changes made with less than a week’s notice and two to four hours of pay for schedule changes made with less than 24 hours’ notice.

Discouraging Abusive On-Call Scheduling Practices
Employers will be required to provide two to four hours of pay to an employee at his/her regular rate of pay when she/he is required to be “on-call” for a specified shift but the employer cancels the shift with less than 24 hours’ notice.

Equal Treatment for Part-Time Workers
Employers will be prohibited from discriminating against an employee with respect to their starting rate of pay, access to employer-provided paid and unpaid time off, or access to promotion opportunities.

Encouraging Worker Retention and Job Security
If an employer’s company is bought or sold, the workers must keep on at their jobs for at least a 90-day trial period.

The Retail Workers Bill of Rights is focused on the largest, most profitable retailers operating in San Francisco. It will only apply to businesses with 20 or more locations globally and 20 or more employees in San Francisco, which captures the vast majority of establishments that fall under the city’s “formula retail” definition. Under San Francisco law, chain stores are categorized as “formula retail” if they have 11 or more locations, which covers big box stores such as Target and Lowe’s, fast food franchises like McDonald’s and Taco Bell, chain restaurants such as Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory, fashion retailers like the Gap and H&M, grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and other corporate businesses.

A Growing Movement for “Jobs With Just Hours”

Just as minimum wage increases and paid sick days laws have gained traction around the country, the movement for jobs with just hours continues to gain steam. Jobs With Justice San Francisco, the community-labor coalition that championed the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, is hopeful that comparable “jobs with just hours” policies will spread to other cities. Other coalitions in the Jobs With Justice network are exploring the potential to pass similar policies as early as next year.

Supervisor David Chiu is moving on to the state assembly next year and has already announced plans to introduce a statewide version of the Retail Workers Bill of Rights in 2015. And in Congress, policymakers introduced federal legislation called the Schedules That Work Act earlier this year.

Meanwhile, people across the country are continuing to organize and demonstrate for fair wages and schedules. OUR Walmart, an organization of current and former Walmart associates, went on strike on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.

The combination of public protests and innovative municipal policies like the Retail Workers Bill of Rights could potentially open up a new front in the battle to end abusive scheduling and help make America work for those who work for a living.

-written by Jonathan Williams at Jobs with Justice 

Fight for $15 and Just Hours

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 1.12.11 PM


Last year we won both a $15 minimum wage and a new city law around fair schedules, but not without a fight! Check out this video of our action. From security guards to fast food workers, workers are speaking out and rising up. Participating organizations included Jobs with Justice, Progressive Workers Alliance, San Francisco Labor Council, SEIU 1021, SEIU USWW, Chinese Progressive Association and Young Workers United.

Celebrate with Us!

We’re celebrating four years of struggles, victories and building Jobs with Justice on November 21st at the ILWU Local 34 Hall, 801 2nd St. from 6pm-8pm. It’ll be a special and festive gathering of activists from all our different movements, labor and community. Join us for live music, heavy appetizers, light alcohol, inspiration and friends.

RSVP and Buy Your Ticket!

Featuring Steve Pitts of the UC Berkeley Labor Center and National Black Workers Center Project. Performances by Latin singer Diana Gameros, bringing songs of love, longing and hope from the borderlands and MC Rey 17, union organizer by day and hard hitting MC by night. Then get ready to dance to the fresh, funky and revolutionary sound of Bandung 55!

Tickets are $25 – $100 sliding scale.

To volunteer and join for free, contact Kung at or (415) 967-3710.

JwJ 4th Anniversary Final

For sponsorship and advertising information, click here for more info and rate sheet.

What Are You Doing for Labor Day?

This Labor Day, low wage workers–security guards, hotel workers, and fast food workers are leading the way in historic actions for fair wages and respect. Workers all over the city are fighting for $15,Building Working Class Power Cropped a fair economy and jobs with justice.

Will you join us? We’re taking action together to build a movement. Please RSVP here. And get the flyer here.

Invisible No More: Workers Take Action at Apple
Thursday, August 28th, 12pm
One Stockton St, SF
The tech industry is booming in San Francisco but some workers are missing out. Not only is Apple the subject of a wage theft lawsuit by its retail employees, but it also uses an irresponsible security contractor, Security Industry Specialists (SIS), that has a history of policies that cheat workers out of a better way of life. Join us for a protest at the Apple store.

Labor Council Breakfast
Friday, August 29th, 8am
Holiday Inn, 1500 Van Ness
Join us to celebrate workers at the SF Labor Council’s annual Pre-Labor Day Breakfast. We’ll hear from CA State Controller Candidate Betty Yee as well as CA Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and get updates from important worker campaigns. Tickets are $75 each and tables of 10 are $750. RSVP to Emily Nelson at or (415) 440-4809.

Hotel Workers Organize
Monday, September 1st, 10:30am
Beach St and Embarcadero, SF
Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf workers have been engaged in a struggle for dignity, respect, a voice on the job and a fair process to organize a union since 2008. Lets show our power to this non-union hotel! Join our march!

Fast Food Workers Action in Oakland
Thursday, September 4th
6:45am under 980 bridge near 45th and Telegraph, Oakland
11am Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
This past July, over 1,300 fast food workers met in Chicago to discuss the next steps for their campaign to demand $15 an hour and the right to form a union. They are ready and willing to do whatever it takes. Join fast food workers from the East Bay Organizing Committee for two actions in Oakland.

Future of the Working Class Forum
Thursday, September 4th, 7PM-9PM
518 Valencia St
From the fight to raise the minimum wage, the fight against displacement, and the fight to keep City College open, the future of the working class in San Francisco is at stake. Activists from the frontlines of these struggles, including Maria Poblet from Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Fernando Marti from Council of Community Housing Organizations, Shanell Williams from City College SF and Feng Kung from Jobs with Justice will discuss the current political landscape and map our way forward. RSVP and share on Facebook.