Part-time workers tell Philly City Council of haphazard scheduling, inadequate hours

Philadelphia City Council members listen to testimony during a hearing on workplace issues. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Philadelphia City Council members listen to testimony during a hearing on workplace issues. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Part-time workers have trouble dealing with unstable hours and other uncertainties that are becoming more common in today’s economy. And a University of California study showed two-thirds of Philadelphia hourly workers report irregular work hours.

At a hearing on the  issue, City Council’s Committee on Children and Youth listened to witnesses including Shaheim Wright who supports a family of seven. He said he lost his job after demanding more hours that coincided with mass transit scheduling.

“My co-workers and I are expected to be completely flexible, but our jobs aren’t flexible with us,” Wright said.

Food service worker Mary Garten told Council members she’s scheduled week to week with no certainty of hours or days.

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“It would be just nice to have a schedule two weeks out in advance so you can make doctor’s appointments, go to school, and have the autonomy of
living your life outside your workplace,” she said.

Working as a home visitor of pregnant women and nursing mothers, nurse Erin Blair testified that she constantly sees issues of chaotic scheduling.

“This week alone, I’ve had four cancelled visits,” she said. “They were cancelled the day before or the same day for my moms that were able to let me know, and they were cancelled because they were called into work.”

The workers said they’re seeking advance scheduling and a fair work week so they can plan instead of working virtually day to day.

The National Retail Federation’s Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French released a statement saying mandates for consistent scheduling could divert limited resources from job training and other benefits.

“In response to employee need, these businesses have worked diligently to voluntarily provide solutions that balance flexibility for their employees and the services consumers expect. We recommend this Committee not disrupt the solutions employers have developed to address scheduling flexibility,” the statement said.

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