Scheduling

The Seattle Times Editorial Board Gets Everything Wrong on Secure Scheduling

The Seattle Times: protecting our beloved sloughs from the menace of popular public transit since 1891.

The Seattle Times: protecting our beloved sloughs from the menace of popular public transit since 1891.

On Monday at 2 pm, the City Council will finally vote on secure scheduling. A majority of the council has already voted the bill out of committee, so the legislation is expected to become law. This is great news for workers in Seattle, who will finally enjoy predictable scheduling, allowing them to balance their work and personal lives. It will enable them to plan doctor’s appointments, family time, school schedules, and all the other everyday activities that so many Seattle office workers take for granted.

Secure scheduling makes sense from a business perspective, too: this law will allow these workers to reinvest themselves in their communities as consumers who can plan their finances more than five days in advance. We’ve already agreed in Seattle that when restaurant workers have more money, that’s good for restaurants. Secure scheduling is a continuation of that idea; it ensures that restaurant workers have the time (and the sense of financial stability) to spend their money in restaurants. It’s just good sense.

So, naturally, the Seattle Times Editorial Board fucking hates it. They published an editorial this morning titled “Seattle’s scheduling rule is counter to our innovative business culture,” and it’s so packed with bullshit that I have no recourse but to fisk the thing—go through line by line to unspool all the lies and misdirections stuffed inside. Ready? Here we go, from the very beginning:

Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council are moving at breakneck speed, for them, on new legislation this month.

This push for legislation started back in February, so it’s not exactly the 2 Fast 2 Furious frenetic road race that the Times is disingenuously depicting here. There have been plenty of committee meetings where citizens on both sides of the issue have spoken out, there have been community events, there have been many opportunities for everyone to comment.

 Not to finish police reform or fix infrastructure overwhelmed by growth and traffic.

Such a lazy attempt at misdirection. You want city leaders to be able to handle a variety of issues at the same time. That’s literally why we have a government: we don’t want leaders to just run around trying to put out whatever fire is supposedly burning the hottest at any given moment, we want them to make the city livable on a variety of levels.

 No, the legislation flying through City Hall this month will instead dictate scheduling policies at a narrow slice of companies operating within city limits.

Note the “flying”—you could conceive and give birth to a child in the amount of time it’s taken this legislation to come to a full vote—and the “dictate,” here, both of which are highly misleading. There’s a difference between regulations and dictatorial demands. Does government “dictate” that five-year-olds can’t work in factories?

And this is the first instance of a weird dichotomy in the piece: first the Board complains about the law, and then they complain that it only affects a small number—or, in this case, a “narrow slice”—of employers. Which is it? Do you hate the law, or do you want it to apply to small businesses?

In this case, secure scheduling only affects food service or retail businesses that employ over 500 workers worldwide, or sit-down restaurants with over 40 locations worldwide. It’s basically the same structure as our minimum wage adoption schedule: big chains with CEOs who make tens of millions of dollars a year are held to a higher standard. And it makes sense to take the same tack with secure scheduling: these chain stores already have the sophisticated scheduling technology to easily handle a few additional scheduling requests.

 Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council are emulating San Francisco, which passed the nation’s first “secure scheduling” legislation in 2014. They presented a Seattle version on Aug. 9, hustled it through committees and expect to finalize the rules on Monday.

“Hustled.” You’d think this legislation broke land speed records. There’s nothing unusual about the process secure scheduling has taken; would the Board prefer a city where no law ever passed? Is the Seattle Times a huge fan of the dreaded Seattle Process?

 The rules require companies to provide at least 14 days notice of work schedules, offer existing employees additional hours when they become available and pay extra when schedules change.

One of the few true sentence in the whole piece. They don’t mention, of course, that the “extra” pay is a single hours’ wages, and they also don’t mention the part of the law that affects “clopening” shifts, which require employees to work late at night and then turn around and come back early in the morning. Probably they don’t include that bit because everybody thinks clopening is a terrible thing to do to an employee. Clopening is so unpopular that Starbucks itself announced that they were abolishing it chainwide it a few years ago. They still do it, though, which is a great example of why we can’t trust these companies to self-police.

 Before rushing this through, Seattle officials should consider the long-term effect of these rules and their other efforts to micromanage business operations at the behest of national labor organizations.

“Rushing.” The Board really broke out the thesaurus for this one. It should be mentioned that the Board also complained about Seattle rushing into the $15 minimum wage, and into expanding transit. Basically, any legislation they dislike moves too fast for them.

The terrific thing about the political process is that it does take in all sides, and business interests have had plenty of input in the secure scheduling law. Just this week, the City Council adopted several amendments which address problems that large corporations had with the day-to-day realities of the secure scheduling law, making it easier for them to comply. The city isn’t dictating employee schedules, it’s not micromanaging anyone’s operations. It’s setting standards for businesses, the same way they establish health and food safety standards and, uh, a minimum wage.

 Seattle’s current success is due in large part because the city’s been an incubator of disruptive retail companies that are now household names.

And when those disruptive retail companies were very small, the secure scheduling laws would not apply to them. What’s your point?

 As companies such as Starbucks, Costco and Nordstrom extended their brands far and wide, they also projected Seattle values — including service and benefits that raised the bar in their markets.

The “benefits” in that sentence is important because it accidentally highlights something the Times is gently avoiding here: Those businesses succeed, in part, because they demonstrate the Seattle value of being great places to work. Costco is famous for its great employee retention numbers. I talked with Starbucks employees who fought for secure scheduling, and they all told me that they love their jobs and their coworkers—they just needed more security in their scheduling so they could balance their jobs and their lives.  Secure scheduling instantiates those Seattle values into law, because we know that the economy requires everyone’s participation to succeed. Without food service employees who make decent money and have the time to spend it, the economy suffers.

 Seattle must fiercely protect its reputation as a place of business innovation and agility. That provides far more jobs and opportunity than being a sandbox for special interests’ regulatory experimentation.

Seattle, in case the Board missed reading it in their own paper, is not hurting for jobs. The $15 minimum wage has not killed the economy as the Board repeatedly threatened; in fact, it’s strengthened it.

It’s a question of balance — providing the flexibility and level playing field businesses require while protecting workers from unreasonable practices.

That’s almost exactly what supporters of shared security have been saying since the beginning. More than halfway through the piece, the Board still hasn’t made the case that shared security hurts business—they’ve just thrown around some scary insinuations.

 Some companies have used new scheduling technology in ways that cause such erratic schedules, making it untenable for those at the first tier of the retail workforce. Starbucks, notably, was shamed by press coverage into improving its scheduling policies in 2014.

And again, Starbucks failed to improve its scheduling policies. And so here we are.

But Seattle officials’ response is questionable. The proposed rules single out particular companies, applying burdensome regulations to some but not others. They won’t benefit the majority of retail workers in the city, who mostly work at small- to mid-size companies.

Again, secure scheduling follows roughly the same standards established by the $15 minimum wage rollout, which is working just fine. Large retailers like Starbucks and Target already utilize scheduling software that enables them to plan their schedules months in advance; this will not be an undue burden on them. The legislation has language that requires the city to reinvestigate secure scheduling two years from now, with studies to examine its effects. Presumably at that point, the employer size regulations will be reinvestigated. This is how good policy works.

Only affected are national retailers, coffee chains and restaurants with at least 500 employees and 40 or more establishments globally.

True.

Retailers in general are struggling to compete with Amazon.com, yet it’s mostly exempted. The rule only affects Amazon workers in physical stores, which so far are limited to roughly 15 employed at University Village.

This is such an obvious concern-troll misdirection; do you honestly suppose that the Seattle Times would be in favor of a law demanding that Amazon’s programmers enjoy the same protections that the current legislation stipulates? Why bring Amazon into it? While it’s true that Amazon is a retailer, most of the people it employs in Seattle are not directly involved in the service industry. And besides, if Amazon’s current expansion plans follow through, they will likely be required to follow the current secure scheduling guidelines soon enough.

Unionized retailers are excluded from the layers of new regulation and potential penalties, even if their contracts provide fewer worker protections than stipulated.

Union workers are better-paid than their non-union counterparts. They enjoy better benefits than non-union workers. Union workers are much more likely to be full participants in the economy, which is the goal of this legislation.

The rules are so complex and difficult for companies to follow without incurring penalties. The path of least resistance becomes unionization.

This is ludicrous. The law is not complex and difficult to follow. Believe me; speaking as someone who has had to sit through a number of anti-union training videos for at various shitty retail jobs, no huge retail corporation would prefer unionization to entering a few additional restrictions into its scheduling software.

This legislation is not onerous. It is not complex. It’s easy to imagine the Board saying the same thing about food safety laws, if the City Council were passing a hand-washing ordinance today: “Does the city honestly expect employers to stand in the bathroom with employees and supervise them as they wash their hands? This confusing job-killing legislation will cause restaurants across the city to shut down.”

 That raises a question about the legislation’s intent and primary beneficiaries: Is it more about improving conditions for workers or encouraging unionization of large companies?

Wow. So now it’s all part of a conspiracy to unionize Starbucks? Again, this isn’t going to happen. If there’s one thing big retail chains hate more than paying their employees, it’s unionization. This is the same kind of scare tactic the Board employed in 2013, when it warned that raising the minimum wage in SeaTac could kill the hotel industry near the airport. (And besides, given that union employees make more money, enjoy more benefits, and are generally treated more humanely than the average work-for-hire employee, I wouldn’t be that opposed to this scary fictional outcome that the Board is waving around.)

Seattle voters should ask their elected officials who they are truly representing here and what they’re doing to nurture the city’s business climate.

Respectfully, I’d argue that Seattle Times readers should ask the paper’s editorial board who they’re truly representing with this article and what they would define as a healthy business climate for Seattle. Because the Board has been on the wrong side of just about every good legislation we’ve seen in the last few years, from raising the minimum wage to supporting public transit. Increasingly, the Seattle that the Editorial Board promotes looks nothing like the Seattle that I see when I walk down the street every day. Why do they waste valuable space in the paper promoting the trickle-down interests of the one percent when it’s clear that Seattle is choosing a different path?

Tomorrow Morning, Speak Out for Secure Scheduling at City Hall

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Over the summer, a Seattle City Council committee has gradually moved toward approving secure scheduling laws that will make it easier for workers to plan their lives around their jobs. City Councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold have met with workers, business owners, and other interested parties over the last half-year, and they’re finally ready to bring secure scheduling to the whole council for a vote.

As the proposed law is written now, workers at large retail and food service establishments would earn predictability pay when employers ask them to go home early, they would be guaranteed ten hours of rest between shifts, and they would get an opportunity to pick up open hours before the employer hired new workers. This would enable part-time workers to make doctors’ appointments, plan time with their families, and even allow them to go back to school—all things that the current scheduling status quo makes difficult or even impossible for many workers. (Listen to our Other Washington podcast for more information about secure scheduling.) Seattle made an important choice when we raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour; now we have to make sure these workers have the time to spend that money, and the security to invest in their futures.

Tomorrow morning, the committee finally votes to send the legislation to the full council. But as always, the opportunity exists for tricky amendments to be added to the bill that would water down—or even completely defang—the secure scheduling legislation.

What can you do to help? You can make your voice heard, literally: come to Council chambers and show your support. Any Seattleite can testify before the City Council: all you have to do is show up before the hearing—9 a.m. or earlier would be best—and sign in on the checklist. Then, you’ll have a minute or two to voice your support. This is useful for two reasons: for one thing, it reminds the council that their constituents are invested in this legislation and want to see secure scheduling happen. For another thing,the longer that people speak, the less time there is for amendments to be discussed. It’s a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington kind of moment.

So if your schedule is free tomorrow, I hope to see you at City Hall (600 4th Ave) for the penultimate secure scheduling discussion. We are so close to passing secure scheduling into law and leading the way for the rest of the country. Like the $15 minimum wage, Seattle will stand as an example for other cities to emulate in years to come. When you speak for a minute or two tomorrow, you’re not just standing up for Seattle-area retail and food service employees who don’t have any control over their schedules—you’ll be speaking for the millions of employees around the country who will benefit from the success of secure scheduling in Seattle.

If you’ve felt exhausted over the last year at how little impact an individual can have in the political process, this is a chance to make a difference. On a local level, your voice has an outsize impact. Speak up for local workers and help Seattle lead the nation yet again in the battle for a stronger middle class.

New Study Shows Paid Sick Leave Has No Effect on Business Costs

if-you-have-tobring-a-box-of-tissues-to-workyou-shouldprobablystay-home

As Washington state prepares to vote on Initiative 1433, which if passed would raise the state  minimum wage and enact paid sick and safe leave for all workers, we’ll likely hear the usual threats from business owners: providing sick leave for their employees will allegedly force them to cut benefits, hours, or even jobs. We heard these complaints five years ago from business owners before Seattle adopted its own sick leave law. We see this kind of thing whenever the people propose any kind of law that might benefit workers, of course: business owners loudly argue that their workers will suffer most of all, and they threaten total economic collapse.

But we now have a few years of data from cities that have enacted paid sick leave laws, so we can put those scary claims to the test. And guess what? As Slate’s Henry Grabar says, a New York City study shows that paid sick leave has pretty much no effect on business. Here’s the nut of it:

Their survey of 350 random New York businesses, stratified to appropriately represent different firm sizes, says: 85 percent of employers reported the law had no effect on business costs, 91 percent reported no reduction in hiring, 94 percent reported no effect on business productivity, and 96 percent reported no change in customer service.

That jibes with findings from other cities published by the U.S. Department of Labor in October. San Francisco has outperformed surrounding counties in job growth since the passage of its policy in 2007. Likewise, analyses of Seattle and Washington, D.C., found negligible impacts on hiring and business location. A ton of research has also shown that flexible leave policies have a positive effect on worker productivity, happiness, and health.

Huh. It’s almost as though business owners just don’t want to change because humans are uncomfortable with new things and would prefer to stick with the proven status quo, isn’t it?

But the thing is, Washington workers can’t afford to keep things the way they are. Sick and safe leave provides workers with a necessary sense of security that enables them to take care of themselves and their families without fear of missing a rent or car payment. And when food service and retail workers can stay home sick, that helps staunch the spread of disease, which is better for everyone in this state.

We made a whole podcast about the importance of paid sick leave; you should listen to it, and then you should vote yes on Initiative 1433 this November. You can be confident that when you vote for 1433 you’re not voting against business; you’re voting for a smart law that will improve life for everyone.

What Would Make for a Good Secure Scheduling Law?

It's been a long time coming, but secure scheduling is finally on the way. What will it look like?

It’s been a long time coming, but a secure scheduling proposal is finally on the way. What will it look like?

Over the last few months, Seattle has had an ongoing citywide conversation about secure scheduling laws. City councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Lorena González launched the conversation back in February, we published a podcast on the topic, we’ve addressed some of the concerns and threats from small business owners, we’ve talked about the effects of bad scheduling on workers, and we’ve looked at polling that indicated a lot of Seattle workers desperately need secure scheduling in their lives.

But what should secure scheduling laws actually look like? What rights should laws protect? We’ll find out soon what Herbold and González are thinking, but Working Washington put together a great list of issues that good secure scheduling laws should cover. Aside from the basics—advance notice of two weeks for schedules, predictability pay if a schedule changes, ending clopenings without additional compensation—a pair of other points are very important. First is a caveat that protects employers:

Voluntarily swapping shifts is a key way workers maintain their flexibility, and this must be protected. In order to ensure employers continue this practice for workers who need to create some extra flexibility of their own, there should be no predictability pay for employee-initiated shift swaps.

Absolutely! One of the biggest fears we hear from employers is that their workers’ flexibility will decrease under a secure scheduling law, or that employers would be fined if workers wanted to change their schedules. A caveat to protect employee work shifts is absolutely necessary to preserve a flexible workplace that’s good for workers and employers.

And lastly, Working Washington suggests that the law provides access to additional hours: “current employees who want to work more hours should have the opportunity to take on newly-posted shifts before additional part-time employees are brought on. ” This is important, and of all the parts of the secure scheduling discussion that have happened in Seattle so far, it’s been by far the least examined. Many employers like to keep a fleet of part-time employees at the ready, but this creates real hardship on employees who might have to juggle multiple odd-scheduled jobs every week. If an employer is happy enough with an employee that they keep them on staff, and if that employee would like to work more hours, why wouldn’t bosses offer additional hours to their workers first? It creates less training time and expenses, it results in happier workers with more money to spend, and it improves workplace efficiency.

We’ll soon see what González and Herbold have decided after months of deliberation. Hopefully the secure scheduling that they propose will look a lot like the secure scheduling that Working Washington encourages. Those five simple guidelines would result in a Seattle with happier, wealthier workers, satisfied employers, and a more humane way of doing business for the rest of the country to emulate.

Working Washington has a clever one-click button to contact the City Council and tell them what you want to see in a secure scheduling law. I suggest you go use it.

A Good Start: REI Announces Employee Pay Raise of Five to Fifteen Percent

Is it already time to glue this thing back together? Not so fast!

Is it already time to glue this thing back together? Not so fast!

Last week, I told you I was cutting up my REI card because the giant retailer wasn’t supporting its retail employees with adequate pay and humane scheduling practices. Yesterday, Daniel DeMay at the Seattle P-I had some good news:

In an announcement said to be shared with employees Sunday, REI announced pay hikes for employees at stores in Seattle, Portland, Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Washington D.C., the company said in a statement. Stores will see between “pay investments” between 5 and 15 percent…In Sunday’s announcement, REI also said it planned to announce an update to scheduling in October of this year.

This is obviously good news. But does it mean I’m becoming an REI member again? Nope. At least, not yet. I want to make sure the retail employees have an opportunity to freely discuss unionization, because that’s the easiest way to make sure employees have a voice in the negotiation for wages and humane scheduling practices.

Also, I’m very curious to hear about REI’s “update to scheduling.” Lots of large chains have made big promises, but few have succeeded. Starbucks, most notably, announced that it was going to improve “stability and consistency” by getting rid of clopening shifts back in 2014. Individual stores are still failing to meet that standard. A little over a year after the New York Times announced the new Starbucks scheduling initiative, the New York Times published a story headlines “Starbucks Falls Short After Pledging Better Labor Practices.”

These corporate edicts, while often made with the best of intentions, frequently fail when they’re put to the test around the country, because there are simply no repercussions for violating company policy. This is why we need laws: they reinforce our values and make it possible for employees to defend their rights. By passing a secure scheduling law in Seattle, we would be making a statement that we do not reward exploitative and/or demeaning employment practices.

But when will I know it’s okay to return to REI as a customer, if ever? When the employees say so. I don’t believe an employer who tells me their employees are happy. I don’t believe news reports quoting happy employees, because those are often coordinated with employers. REI workers sounded the alarm bells; they’re the only ones who can sound the all-clear.

Self-Selecting Poll Blows Up in Restaurant Lobby’s Face

"Of course you realize, this means war..."

“Of course you realize, this means war…”

When reading about the results of surveys, you should always, always, always consider the source. Self-selecting surveys—most of which take the form of those online Survey Monkey-style polls you see sometimes on Facebook—are basically meaningless. What they tell us is this: an organization wanted to see a certain set of results, and so that organization pushed its polls out to users who were likely to give them the result they want.

With that in mind, our friends at Working Washington uncovered something very interesting in a survey led by the Seattle Restaurant Alliance. The survey is being used to argue against the secure scheduling legislation currently under consideration by the Seattle City Council, but Working Washington discovered that the poll actually made a pretty great case for secure scheduling. To wit: nearly a third of the poll’s anonymous respondents complained about not getting enough notice of their schedules. Nearly a quarter said they wanted more hours on the job, and nearly a quarter complained about a lack of flexibility in their schedules.

Of course, the Seattle Restaurant Alliance wants to paint this as a “glass-half-full” kind of situation, but if you look at it by letter grades, a 75 percent score is a borderline C in most schools, and 66 percent would be an D. And, as Working Washington points out, this is a survey which is expected to be about as positive as humanly possible. What would a truly independent polling outfit discover if they were allowed to survey Seattle restaurant workers?

But even so, none of these results are an argument against secure scheduling. The Seattle Restaurant Alliance wants us to believe that most employers are great at scheduling their employees. Okay. Then those restaurants should have no problem with new secure scheduling laws, then! If their employees receive their schedules two weeks in advance, and if the employers don’t employ inhumane on-call practices to keep their workers on the hook for hours they may never actually work, then the employers are doing everything right and the law won’t affect them.

Secure scheduling practices are intended to watch out for the dishonorable employers who monopolize their workers’ time—even the time they don’t spend at work—and make it impossible to experience ordinary events that you or I might take for granted: the opportunity to enjoy a hobby, or to volunteer for a nonprofit we support, or eat a meal with family, or even take on a second job. If the people who work for the businesses behind the Seattle Restaurant Alliance are already enjoying these basic human rights, surely the Seattle Restaurant Alliance won’t mind if we ensure that a few bad employers are forced to do the same?

The Same Business Owners Who Threatened Doom Over the $15 Minimum Wage Are Now Predicting Doom Over Secure Scheduling

"Step right up! The crystal ball reveals all..."

“Reply hazy try again later.”

The conservative Washington Policy Center notes that—gird your loins, because here comes a shock—some local business owners are threatening doom if Seattle’s City Council passes a secure scheduling law

Now the president and COO of El Gaucho Hospitality, which operates the popular and high-end El Gaucho steak restaurants, has joined the fray.  In a letter that was recently emailed to 80,000 El Gaucho customers, a blog posted on the company’s website, and an interview published in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Chad Mackay says the proposed restrictive scheduling regulations are “absurd.”

The WPC post says “Mackay warns such micromanagement will harm the very workers the rules are supposed to protect.” Which is the sort of thing that employers always warn when any laws are proposed that might benefit workers. Business owners are always “concerned” that the laws will hurt those the very workers they’re supposed to help. Much in the same way that anti-seat-belt activists (and yes, those do exist) argue that seat belt laws hurt the very drivers they mean to help, or the way that American business owners used to argue that child labor was for the good of the child.

This isn’t the first time that Mackay has spoken up for the supposed “good” of his workers. Mackay warned Payscale.com that “Some will be hurt by” Seattle’s $15 minimum wage increase, and he argued that “What will never really be known is how many people didn’t get a job because it no longer exists or those that lost jobs or hours due to such a dramatic increase.” (Considering that Seattle is within the range of full employment, it’s hard to get nostalgic for all those imaginary underpaid jobs that might have hypothetically been lost.) Why, Mackay apparently cared so much about the workers who would be hurt by Seattle’s $15 minimum wage that he was a top donor for a failed effort to undo it.

So when we consider Mackay’s forecast for secure scheduling, we should also take his predictions about the minimum wage into account. His claims for the harm secure scheduling will do for his employees are eerily similar to his claims about the $15 minimum wage. Was he right about the minimum wage?

Uh, no. In fact, his business seems to be doing just fine. Shortly after the $15 minimum wage became law and just a few months after his anti-$15 referendum fell flat, Mackay bragged about his big plans for El Gaucho to the Puget Sound Business Journal:

Mackay wants to grow the existing business, and also has plans to add a couple of stories onto the existing El Gaucho Inn. He wants to expand the hotel and add a rooftop entertainment area with a retractable roof for corporate events, intimate weddings and more… He wants to add a store in Seattle where the select seafood and high-end meats he sources for his restaurants are available to the public to buy.

Doesn’t sound to me like a man who’s worried he’ll be able to afford to pay his employees. And in fact, just two weeks ago, El Gaucho posted an ad on the Reddit.com thread SeaJobs looking for employees, specifically a dishwasher who would be paid at $15-16 per hour and a sauté cook for $17-19 per hour. Oh, and those positions are for the El Gaucho in Bellevue, where the minimum wage is currently $9.47 per hour.

So from the outside, it sure looks like Mackay’s business is doing fine, despite his warnings that the minimum wage laws would hurt the very people they were meant to help. Now that he’s making the exact same threats over secure scheduling, are you really inclined to believe him? His record as a prognosticator is really quite poor. Maybe he should stick to steaks.

Surprise, Surprise! The Chamber of Commerce Doesn’t Seem to Like Secure Scheduling

City reporter Erica C. Barnett reports on The C Is for Crank that Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce is preparing its membership for the secure scheduling law that our City Council is discussing. Maud Daudon, the president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, sent an e-mail that included the following appeal to member businesses:

The Seattle City Council has started exploring legislation that would restrict how employers schedule their shift workers. We are closely monitoring the process, and have consistently shared the message that Seattle must proceed thoughtfully: scheduling is highly complex and a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach will create more problems for employees. Furthermore, many businesses already have processes in place to directly meet the expectations of their employees. If you would like to share how you’ve adopted scheduling practices that work well for your employees, please contact Meadow Johnson, our senior vice president of external relations.

Who has the time to write all these tired cookie-cutter metaphors? (Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Who has the time to write all these tired cookie-cutter metaphors? (Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

First of all, there is no law yet. The City Council is discussing secure scheduling with workers, employers, and labor experts, so this condemnation of a “one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach” is way too premature and constructed on nothing. In fact, based on the Chamber’s predictably negative responses to paid sick leave (PDF) and the $15 minimum wage, I think the cookie-cutter allegations of cookie-cutterism are the real cookie-cutter approach here.

And the assertion that “many businesses already have processes in place” is a curious one; just because many employers pay more than the minimum wage doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have minimum wage laws. In fact, by raising the minimum wage, we’re putting less of a burden on those good employers who pay more than their low-wage competitors. So if some businesses do a good job of scheduling, why wouldn’t they want, or why would they care, if employers with exploitative scheduling practices had to follow secure scheduling laws?

The business response to Seattle’s secure scheduling investigation has really been quite underwhelming. When councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold asked for business input into the process, they replied by saying that no laws were necessary, and that supplying a secure schedule for employees would be “one more straw that may soon break the camel’s back.” We hear these threats every time minimum-wage increases or paid sick leave laws are mentioned, and yet the camel’s back remains proudly unbroken.

The Chamber has a real opportunity here to help shape Seattle’s secure scheduling law, but they’re responding with the same cookie-cutter threats that they always drag out in cases like this. Just a thought: maybe it’s time for the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce to stop fighting a proposal that doesn’t exist yet and to start bringing a good-faith effort to the secure scheduling conversation?

(To learn more about secure scheduling, please check out the fifth episode of our podcast, The Other Washington.)