Low-Wage Hourly Workers Face Scheduling Crisis

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Anthony Newby

Anthony Newby

Low-wage hourly workers are burdened by more than low wages. Often they don’t know when they’re going to be scheduled for work, making it difficult to go to school or get a second job. That’s one finding of a door-to-door survey of more than 500 workers in north Minneapolis.

Workers told Neighborhoods Organizing For Change that employers also required them to work while sick or injured and to turn around from late shifts to come in early, leaving little time for sleep.

“All throughout the city, workers are struggling to make ends meet. Workers are struggling with working conditions and workers are not being paid enough money,” Neighborhoods Organizing for Change Executive Director Anthony Newby told a crowd of about 350 who had gathered at Minneapolis City Hall to call for change.

The city council is currently developing policy proposals that support earned sick time, fair scheduling, wage theft prevention and a living wage.

“North Minneapolis is an area of the city that’s struggling. It’s been locked out of a lot of the economic opportunity and a lot of the workers there have no job or the jobs they have aren’t paying enough money and we think we should do something about that.”

Survey Shows Breadth Of Unpredictable Schedule Problem

How much notice do you receive of your work schedule?

Neighborhoods Organizing For Change

[/media-credit] How much notice do you receive of your work schedule?

More than half (55%) reported that they receive their schedules a week or less in advance. In fact, 17 percent of hourly workers stated that they found out their work schedule with less than 24 hours notice.

One quarter of hourly workers reported that unpredictable schedules made it difficult to go to school or get a second job because of the volatility in their work hours.

And this last-minute notice of work schedules is made all the more challenging when the schedules change each week – 68 percent reported that their work schedules change week to week.

Among employees who receive a week of advanced notice of their schedules, 70 percent reported that they had to have open availability – and be available to work any time – day or night – the business is in operation.

60% receive no paid sick time. An additional 9% did not not know whether they receive paid sick time. Only 22% had used a day of sick time and had been paid for it.

Rod Adams was working at Old Country Buffet when he accidentally cut his finger “wide open”. Adams told his manager that he needed to go to the hospital. “And he tells me ‘it’s not that bad. Take these gauze and these bandages and finish your shift.'”

Adams says the wound required nine stitches. The doctor told him not to work for two or three days with his hands. Adams says his boss threatened to fire him if he didn’t report to work.


Some workers are asked to do “clopening” – close the business late at night and then turn around and come open the store early in the morning.

Adams said while working at Chipotle, he would have to work until 2 A.M. and be back to work at 6:30 A.M. “I got two hours of sleep a night for seven months!”

Download and read the entire report here (PDF):

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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