The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Nov. 25 voted unanimously to approve unprecedented retail worker rights legislation. The law addresses erratic scheduling and requires retailers to pay for time when workers are on call or face last-minute changes. Retailers will also be required to give part-time workers more hours before hiring more staff.
The law affects retail chains that have at least 20 locations nationally, including about 5% of the city’s workforce.
The vote was a required second vote. The legislation will almost surely survive a mayoral veto, which is unlikely.
This San Francisco law tackles issues for retail workers that have captured the attention of many labor advocates and politicians nationwide. Algorithms in software are helping retailers cut costs through super-efficient staffing — a practice known as “just-in-time scheduling.” They are also making life difficult for workers who are trying to manage their households, attend school, work additional jobs, or earn enough money to get by.
Retailers like Macy’s whose workers belong to unions are less likely to work under these conditions. Some, like Starbucks, have unilaterally eased up on the efficiencies in an effort to improve their employees’ work situations.
This legislation, which will take effect this summer, is unprecedented in its scope. In Seattle last year, voters approved only an aspect of this policy, requiring businesses to offer more hours to part-time employees before hiring more workers. San Francisco's move could force more retail chains to revamp their systems, and it could be a model for other cities, states, or the nation. Rep. George Miller from California has introduced a similar bill in Congress.