17,000 workers one step closer to living wage, new report underscores urgency
December 2014’s living wage ordinance made Santa Clara County the first in the nation to bar its service subcontractors – like janitorial, laundry, security and cooks – from abusive work scheduling practices like erratic and inflexible hours. At that time, the County promised to extend the same protections to its own 17,000 employees.
Today, after five months of waiting, the County said that it will bring this promise up for a vote in June.
The urgency of the issues at hand was underscored by a new report, Hour by Hour: Women in Today’s Workweek, published today by the Center for Popular Democracy. The report sheds light on the nature, magnitude and causes of women workers’ struggle to survive economically and raise families in a climate of increasingly unstable work schedules
Some highlights from the report:
- With 38.8 million women paid by the hour – including 72 percent of Latina workers and 68 percent of African American women workers – women and people of color are disproportionately affected by the concerns facing the hourly workforce.
- “41 percent of all hourly workers reported that they know their work schedule a week or less in advance and that they have almost no say in their schedules” (p. 3), making it nearly impossible for them to schedule childcare, school or a second job.
- 25 percent of the 12 million (p. 1) women working part-time would prefer full-time work (p. III), but without predictable, flexible work schedules, these women workers can’t increase their hours while still fulfilling their family responsibilities or pursuing education.
- “A third of workers have a fluctuating monthly income and 42 percent of them cite irregular work schedules as the cause.” (p. III)
- “A 2007 study linked children’s poorer cognitive, behavioral, and mental health status to the stress experienced by their parents with non-standard work schedules.” (p. 13)
- The quality of hourly jobs is getting worse, not better. (p. 2)
Santa Clara County’s leadership has made a huge contribution to the growing movement for fair work schedules. Cities, counties and states across the country are poised to consider similar legislation. Extending these protections to 17,000 more workers will be a huge step forward for the movement as a whole, let alone in the lives of those workers.
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