Emeryville is the third city to guarantee humane scheduling for its workers

Emeryville unanimously passed the country’s third fair scheduling law.

Supporters of Seattle’s scheduling ordinance at a city council meeting in September. CREDIT: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Supporters of Seattle’s scheduling ordinance at a city council meeting in September. CREDIT: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

This week, the workers of Emeryville, California secured a victory: the city council unanimously passed a law meant to ensure more reliable and fair schedules.

Emeryville’s law is just the third to pass in the nation, following San Francisco’s, approved in 2014, and Seattle’s, which passed in September.

The California city, which is full of retail chains, will require big retailers to post employee schedules at least two weeks in advance and give workers extra pay if their schedules change at the last minute. It also requires them to give part-time employees more hours before hiring new employees to fill in. It takes effect in July.

Emeryville’s ordinance goes further than the first two cities’, however, by covering more businesses. San Francisco’s law only applies to chains with at least 40 stores and 20 employees in the city, while Seattle’s covers those with 500 employees or more. But Emeryville will apply its ordinance to those with 55 employees or more worldwide.

The law’s passage is a response to a growing movement of low-wage workers who have been fighting for and winning minimum wage increases and are now moving on to ensure humane scheduling. While Emeryville has the highest current minimum wage in the country at over $14 an hour, workers argue that higher wages will mean little if they can’t get enough hours or their shifts are unpredictable and interrupted at the last minute.

The Fight for 15 movement has notched a number of victories: two states have passed minimum wage increases to $15 an hour, as have many major cities. But chaotic scheduling is still widespread. At least 17 percent of people across the workforce have irregular schedules, while over 40 percent say they don’t know their schedules until a week in advance. The problem is particularly concentrated in the service sector; retail workers and food service workers say they frequently find out their schedules with too little notice.

But legislation has cropped up in a number of other places: the mayor of New York City is working on a bill aimed at scheduling for fast food workers, while similar bills have been introduced in Minneapolis, MN, Washington, D.C., and even Congress.