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Topics: Labor Unions

Big Labor wants 'schedules that work' --- just not for them

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Jobs,Labor,AFL-CIO,Minimum Wage

Leading Democratic lawmakers and allied liberal groups are promoting the legislation this week to end abusive work scheduling practices. The bill, titled the Schedules that Work Act, would give employees more rights to demand flexible work schedules and demand an end to long, irregular work shifts.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and backed by a variety of Big Labor organizations like the AFL-CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers as well as liberal activist groups like Demos, Restaurant Opportunities Center United and the Retail Action Project. Which is is kind of ironic because many of those groups demand their own workers work long, irregular hours.

"Workers need scheduling predictability so they can arrange for child care, pick up kids from school, or take an elderly parent to the doctor. The Schedules That Work Act ensures that employers and employees have mutual respect for time dedicated to the workplace," said Miller in a Tuesday press release. The legislative language essentially makes it unlawful for an employer to punish an employee for demanding a different work schedule.

That will come in handy for anybody applying for the lead organizer position at the Retail Action Project, since its listing on UnionJobs.com states that applicants must have a "[w]illingness to work long, irregular, evening or weekends as needed."

Similarly, anybody applying for the AFL-CIO's senior field representative position for Arizona and Colorado must be willing "to work long hours and weekends as required" and have an "Ability to travel on a regular basis as needed, and for extended periods of time." Ditto if you want the same job for the Tennessee region or the midwest region.

If you want to be national campaign co-director for the Center for Popular Democracy, an activist group allied with the AFL-CIO and Demos, well, then "Dedication and [an] ability to work flexible hours" is a prerequisite.

As the Restaurant Opportunities Center explained in one of its job listings, these kind of jobs just cannot be done any other way: "Organizers are required to work long and irregular hours including work on weekends and on holidays as necessary. The work of an organizer necessitates flexibility as demands and priorities for a particular campaign or the overall organization shift."

Notably, Miller's bill says that employers must grant a requested change in work schedules unless there is "bona fide business reason" for denying it. Should the bill pass, that would come in handy for these particular employers.

If you think all of that is tough on the workers for these progressive groups, well, just be glad you are not working as an intern at the liberal magazine Mother Jones, which was caught last year paying them below the minimum wage. A spokesman for the magazine even conceded that their human resources director was known to point out to the interns that they qualified for food stamps, hint-hint.

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