The City of San Francisco is at it again. In addition to the already-mandated super-minimum wage, mandatory health insurance, and paid time off, Supervisor Erich Mar is now introducing the Retail Workers Bill of Rights to eliminate part-time and irregular schedules. He says in a San Francisco Chronicle editorial that the measure is needed to “protect the integrity of our neighborhoods.” The ordinance is backed by worker rights groups such as “Jobs With Justice” and “Young Workers United;” groups closely aligned with the city’s retail and hospitality unions. It would require that employers “offer additional hours to part-time employees before hiring more part-time employees”.
Thus, in a time of high unemployment, the City will be imposing a law that causes fewer jobs. According to Supervisor Mar, the measure “will create new protection for retail workers” who are currently “held hostage” by part-time schedules. This rhetoric, of course, ignores the fact that many employees (such as students, working mothers) prefer the flexibility of part-time schedules.
Worker rights groups and unions love these bills because part-time workers are more difficult to organize, and because imposing higher costs and less flexibility on non-union companies reduces competition for unionized firms. Mar admits that his ordinance is aimed at “our largest retail corporations like McDonald’s and Walmart” (read “non-union”). He says the measure is an “innovative way to address poverty and inequality,” but he offers little comfort to those displaced people who would have no job instead of a part-time job. Expect to see the Board of Supervisors voting on this proposed ordinance within the next few months.