FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, November 3, 2016
CONTACT: Matthew Hanson, DC Working Families; mhanson(at)workingfamilies.org or (202) 930-1489
Washington, DC – Earlier today, dozens of people testified at DC Councilmember Elissa Silverman’s public roundtable about work schedule issues and how they affect families and business owners across the District. Many who testified reiterated how unstable and fluctuating hours that profitable companies provide remain barriers for working people striving to make ends meet, an issue that led the Council to take up and recently table the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act. In addition to Councilmember Silverman, Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne Nadeau and Brandon Todd attended the hearing, as well as incoming Councilmember Trayon White.
Chad Phillips, a Ward 7 resident, took a day off from working at the Dunkin Donuts on Minnesota Avenue to speak at the roundtable. Phillips shared during his testimony, “When I first started working at Dunkin Donuts, I was getting about 50 hours a week. After six months of working there, my hours were cut down to 12-16 hours a week. This makes it extremely hard to provide my family and forced me to have three jobs. I’ve tried to ask for more hours and was told that was all they could give me. Meanwhile, they reduced staff, hired new people and gave them more hours and less pay.”
Phillips’ experience echoes findings from a 2015 survey examining schedules of people who work in the low-wage service industry in Washington, DC Survey respondents typically face a 13-hour range in weekly hours per month, receiving as little as 25 hours some weeks and a high of 38 hours in other weeks. Such variation can mean the difference of $150 per week, or the ability of working people in DC to afford to buy groceries, pay the bills or make rent. The same study found that more than half of those surveyed reported learning their work schedule less than one week in advance and one-third with less than three days’ notice. Without advance notice of schedules, many struggle to find childcare or plan for other parts of their lives, including making time for school or a second job.
According to Ilana Boivie of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, insufficient hours and inconsistent schedules negatively impacts more than 22,000 people across the District.
Valerie Ervin, of the Working Families Party, said “if we want the people who work here to be able to afford to live here, we need to make sure everyone has access to full-time work and a fair schedule.”
Ari Schwartz, lead organizer for DC Jobs With Justice, spoke about “the need to implement solutions to make retail and restaurant jobs meaningful career opportunities.” He went on to note that “people in the District are ready, willing and able to work full time so they can put food on the table, pay the bills, spend time with their loved ones and contribute to the local economy.“
Speaking about today’s roundtable, Councilmember Silverman called it “an opportunity to hear how my colleagues and I can more effectively craft a fair scheduling bill for reintroduction next Council session.” Adding that witnesses representing labor advocates, businesses, workers, and policy experts turned out to testify “which underscores the interest and impact of this legislation. You shouldn’t have to win the “boss lottery” to have a predictable schedule that allows you to raise a family, have access to education, or take care of your family. I am committed to working with all interested parties to address concerns and build more dialogue around the importance of advancing fair scheduling legislation in 2017.”