Before rushing through secure-scheduling rules, Seattle should consider the long-term effects.
MAYOR Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council are moving at breakneck speed, for them, on new legislation this month.
Not to finish police reform or fix infrastructure overwhelmed by growth and traffic.
No, the legislation flying through City Hall this month will instead dictate scheduling policies at a narrow slice of companies operating within city limits.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s a question of balance — providing the flexibility and level playing field businesses require while protecting workers from unreasonable practices.
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.
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.
Only affected are national retailers, coffee chains and restaurants with at least 500 employees and 40 or more establishments globally.
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.
Unionized retailers are excluded from the layers of new regulation and potential penalties, even if their contracts provide fewer worker protections than stipulated.
The rules are so complex and difficult for companies to follow without incurring penalties. The path of least resistance becomes unionization.
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?
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.