Restrictive scheduling removes the flexibility on which the hospitality industry is built.
The Legislature is considering two bills concerning employer and employee scheduling that are a direct attack on my livelihood. I work in a full-service restaurant in Seattle and know the damaging and limiting effects of Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance.
Even though my workplace is not covered by the ordinance, I know workers who are. I do not want to see an even more burdensome law – such as House Bill 1491 and Senate Bill 5717 – go into effect in restaurants, hotels and other food-service establishments across Washington.
I chose to make my career in the service industry more than 30 years ago. I’ve worked about every job in the industry – from washing and bussing dishes to floor supervisor and manager. Little by little, I’ve seen the profitability and flexibility of my job be chipped away in the name of progress and protecting workers.
Restrictive scheduling removes the flexibility on which the hospitality industry is built. I’ve worked in restaurants in cities across the U.S. This career has allowed me to raise a son, pay rent, put myself through school and have the flexibility to pursue my hobbies.
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Restrictions on how I pick up extra shifts, work a double shift or work the close-open shift will no longer be allowed without my employer being penalized. This barrier will create financial losses, too. I will be unable to work large events or parties if they occur outside my regular work schedule. This will directly impact my ability to earn a living and provide for my family.
The proponents of this legislation have not engaged workers. The Full Service Workers Alliance of Seattle has repeatedly been dismissed. During a work session held in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee in October, the labor groups that got a seat at the table represented special-interest groups, such as the Service Employees International Union.
By their actions, it seems as if supporters of this bill don’t want to hear from the people affected by this policy. In Seattle’s Secure Scheduling ordinance, those under a collective bargaining agreement are exempt from the very restrictions they have pushed onto workers in the full-service restaurant industry.
This statewide proposal is more restrictive than Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance and encompasses a lower threshold. Whereas Seattle’s law applies to restaurants with more than 500 employees and 40 locations worldwide, the new state-law threshold would apply to those with 100 employees and 40 locations worldwide.
With restaurants already bogged down with high labor costs and slim profit margins, adding additional restrictive scheduling administrative burdens and penalties would mean disaster for workers and businesses. I have talked to employers who have discussed cutting their hours and say that they may close their doors because of these labor practices.
I need lawmakers to hear my voice and the voices of my fellow restaurant, hotel and food-service workers opposed to House Bill 1491/Senate Bill 5717. Adopting this harmful legislation would negatively impact the very workers it is attempting to protect.
The hospitality industry doesn’t need to be saved from “bad scheduling practices.” If anything, it needs to be saved from politicians who want to make it harder for employees to go to work and live their lives.