You've probably been hearing a lot about the gig economy lately. Politicians, corporations, and the media have a lot to say about the future of work and the new model of gig jobs. But we rarely hear from the people who are actually doing the work. That changes next Wednesday, at Working Washington's Gig Workers Speak-Out.Read More
In the past week, Working Washington’s groundbreaking campaigns have been featured in The Nation, Slate, and Politico.Read More
As workers, we all need schedules that are flexible and predictable enough for us to live our lives. That could mean the freedom to go to school or spend time with our families. It could mean the stability of getting enough hours to pay the rent. It could mean being able to plan ahead so we can make time for the things that matter to us outside of work — whether it's volunteering, making art, or just celebrating special occasions like a birthday or an anniversary.
And if you're going to plan some time to celebrate an anniversary, today isn't a bad day to do it, because it's a big one. A year ago today, Seattle's secure scheduling law went into effect — and tens of thousands of food, coffee, and retail workers started seeing some major changes in their schedules at work and their lives.
So celebrate with us by reading what the workers who won secure scheduling have to say about what the last year has been like for them…
If you think more secure schedules are a cause for celebration, click here to join the party!
Let us know if you're a worker who has seen improvements in scheduling at work since last July — or if there are changes you want to see.
It's clear that when workers come together and fight for change, we can do big things. What can we do by this time next year?
My name is Ty, and I've been a nanny in Seattle for about three years. And for the last year, I've been a member of Working Washington, fighting for domestic workers' rights.
It's 2018 — but right now, domestic workers across the US are still excluded from federal labor laws, just like we were back in the 1930s when we were left out of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
And last week, we made history when we showed up to support the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights as it was introduced at Seattle City Hall.
We kicked off our campaign last December, and we've been fighting ever since. Seeing our Bill of Rights finally introduced at City Hall — after the months we've spent going to meetings at libraries, coffee shops, and restaurants, speaking out at events, discussing the amendments one by one — was so empowering. I really felt like I had a place — we were all standing there together in support of the bill, making a change and making history.
I've become a leader in this campaign because domestic work is real work. I'm lucky enough to work for a family that really takes care of me. But that wasn’t always the case. A year ago, I was nannying for a family in West Seattle. They cared about me, but they didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing as employers. They didn't provide health insurance, any paid sick leave, or even rest breaks while I was working shifts up to 10 hours. Not having insurance was horrible — I racked up a $1000 bill for an emergency room visit that I'm still paying off. And there were a couple times I got really sick, and since I didn't have paid time off, I ended up losing hours and losing money.
It's really important that domestic workers are treated like other workers, because we're completing jobs, working hours, getting paid for the service we're doing. When you provide health insurance, when you provide breaks and paid time off, you provide a sense of care. You provide a sense of stability, and a foundation for someone to grow off of while they're raising your own.
Being a part of this movement makes me feel like I'm not isolated — like we're all in it together, working as a single organism.
Now that the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights has been introduced, we're going to have to keep up the momentum to get it passed into law. We're not going to stop here. Whether you're a domestic worker or not, we need your support. If workers aren't all on the same team, working together and supporting each other, we won't get anywhere.
We're people too. We deserve equal rights, just like everyone else — and that means earning the minimum wage, getting rest breaks while we’re working, access to insurance, a retirement plan, paid time off, and contracts so there are certain standards to be upheld.
Thank you for your support — it's allowed me to become a leader and make this movement HAPPEN. Let's not stop here! I can't wait to see us reach all the domestic workers in Seattle. We can get our Bill of Rights passed, and then build the momentum to secure rights for domestic workers across the country, if we put our hearts in the right place and take action!
— Ty, nanny, musician, and leader with Working Washington
"Today's ruling abandons over 40 years of precedent. It shows five judges can't handle the truth that strong labor unions have played a central role in building a more equitable economy and putting meaningful checks & balances on corporate power.”Read More
I work full-time as a visual merchandiser at an outdoor retailer. My job is to make sure the store looks good — putting the merchandise we’re selling in place, making changes to the floor set to keep everything interesting, dressing and undressing mannequins, tracking sales. I get very steady hours — about 40 a week. That stability is key. It means I can plan out my life — I can look at a calendar and say “yes, I can schedule something outside of work this day.” Work is a big part of my time, but a small part of my life. Secure scheduling makes it easier to do everything outside of work, like spend time with my family, which is massive, or go on day trips or long hikes. I know exactly when I’m working, and I know those hours won’t change on me.
Last year, tens of thousands of food and retail workers in Seattle won secure scheduling, giving them two weeks' notice of their schedules, the right to rest between shifts, the right to give input into their schedules, and more.
How does your employer stack up when it comes to scheduling? Click here to find out your employer's Scheduling Score.
I’m lucky in that my current employer has always been pretty consistent when it comes to scheduling. But before I worked here, I was a salesperson at American Eagle and used to deal with constantly being on call, but never scheduled for real shifts. Managers would play favorites, so a small group of people would get all the hours. I just never knew if I was going to have money for anything. You could never really guess how many hours you’d get, so you could go from thinking, “ok, I’ll probably make a solid $200 or so,” to ending up with $40 in your paycheck.
And it was a huge bind on my time — being on call meant that I could never be too far from where I worked, because if I got called in, I would have to show up. My time wasn’t really mine. That’s stressful. You don’t feel valued as a worker, and it creates resentment towards management.
Now, I feel valued at my job, and I can plan ahead long-term. I can plan on having money and time to do things I need or want to do — whether that’s meeting someone at the climbing gym or just mundane grown-up things like going to the doctor’s office or scheduling an eye appointment.
I think secure scheduling is good for business, too. The team’s a little bit happier. Managers don’t have to worry about the schedule all the time, because it’s set up a couple weeks in advance, so if someone can’t show up or needs to take time off, they can plan around that.
Workers are more productive when we’re working the right hours and know when we’re scheduled to work. It boosts morale. It’s just a lot less stress, especially for people who are living paycheck to paycheck and have a lot of bills — it’s important to know exactly how much money you’re going to make at the end of the day and know you can make ends meet. And it’s vital to have work-life balance, which you can only have if you know when you’re working ahead of time. It’s that simple.
Across Seattle, workers like Adriana are sharing stories of what secure scheduling has meant for them. They're talking about how two weeks' notice of their schedules, the right to input into their schedules, and other secure scheduling policies have brought their work and their life into balance.
But right now, most workers in Washington aren't covered by secure scheduling. That's why we want to give workers all over the state a chance to see how their employers are doing when it comes to scheduling. Click here to get your employer's Scheduling Score!
Thousands of nannies, house cleaners, and other domestic workers in Seattle don’t get the full protections of our workers’ rights laws. Few have access to basic benefits like healthcare and retirement. Many don't get paid rest breaks. Some are even excluded from the minimum wage. And there’s no good way for workers to come together to set industry-wide standards that improve wages and working conditions.
Thursday morning, we'll be at Seattle City Hall to celebrate the introduction of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights which will lead the way to a new model of worker power. We'll break down some doors and take Seattle's domestic workers from invisible to powerful!
If you can make it to Seattle City on Thursday morning, we'd love for you to join us. If you can't make it, can you take a moment to send a message of support to the workers leading the way?
- Yes, I'll be there in support Thursday morning at 8:30am!
- I can't make it to City Hall, but I'd like to show my support.
For months, Seattle domestic workers have been working with elected officials to develop a Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights that will address the inequities faced by a workforce that’s mostly women and disproportionately people of color.
Here are some key components of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights being introduced Thursday:
- Covers all part-time and full-time domestic workers in the city — regardless of whether they are technically employed by an agency or a family, and regardless of whether they are classified as employees or contractors.
- Ensures all domestic workers are covered by the minimum wage and receive rest breaks.
- Establishes a Domestic Workers Standards Board which includes workers, employers, and community representatives and has the power to establish industry-wide standards on wages, benefits, training, and other issues.
The Domestic Workers Standards Board would be a breakthrough step for workers rights in Seattle and across the country — a new model of collective bargaining being led by women and people of color who have been too long excluded from other basic legal protections.
Let us know if you can make it Thursday and celebrate this big step forward — and send a message of support!
Not what “volunteer” usually means.Read More
Poverty wages and income inequality are driving our city’s affordable housing crisis: the most common reasons people in our community lose their housing is because they lose their jobs, they can’t make the rent, or their employers just don’t pay them enough to support themselves.Read More
As a corporate employee at Amazon, this big business tax hasn’t been on my radar at work at all. Nobody on my team, or any managers, have said, “If this tax goes through, we’re going to have to make some serious budget changes.” Nobody on my team is thinking this tax will actually affect our budget.
And as a Seattleite, I have mixed feelings about Amazon. I don’t think it’s all bad for the city — employees like me are paid a good salary and benefits, and I don’t think Amazon is directly responsible for our housing affordability crisis. But they’re one of the largest sources of growth in our city, and that growth has changed things a lot.
When I moved to Seattle in 2010, I had a decent studio in the U District for $635/month. When I moved out in 2014, they wanted $1200 for the same studio. If you don’t have a corporate job and make a ton of money, you’re rooming with a ton of people and dealing with scummy landlords.
Indirectly, the Amazons of Seattle are responsible. Giving people huge salaries and bonuses to move here jacks up the price of rent, and the cost of living here has gotten out of control. If they don’t find a way to solve the housing crisis they’ve generated by coming here, it’s going to affect lower-income people the most. Those low-wage workers don’t get the benefits of Amazon being located here. Amazon is saving a lot of money by setting up here instead of the Bay or New York, and they should be giving something back to the city of Seattle.
I’ve worked for Amazon as a corporate employee for about six months. As a corporate employee, I don’t have much to complain about — I’m getting a great salary and benefits. But before I got this job, I spent two years trying to get by as a gig worker, working for apps like Uber and Lyft and running deliveries out of Amazon warehouses as an Amazon Flex driver.
Back when I was working as a Flex driver, I was moving from place to place trying to find a way to afford to live. For about a year, I was squatting in a commercial office space in SoDo. Then I moved up to Camano Island and rented a room in a house up there. And right before I got my corporate job at Amazon, I squatted in my mom’s retirement community in Skagit Valley for about four months. Flex isn’t the worst gig to have, but you definitely can’t live in Seattle city limits on a Flex driver’s salary, unless maybe you worked about 80 hours a week. You could maybe live in a car and make enough money to eat and wash your clothes, but you’re not going to rent an apartment on that income.
The housing situation is out of control. It’s just too expensive. There aren’t enough places to live. There are no regulations, so developers put up luxury condos — there’s no incentive to put up affordable housing. Even apartments that used to be considered moderate- or low-income are charging an arm and a leg.
The reaction I’ve seen to this tax from corporations like Amazon is a little bewildering. Maybe they think they’re already doing enough, but it’s clear things are still out of control. There’s no guarantee all the problems we’re facing as a city are going to disappear, but something has to happen. Somebody has to start investing in infrastructure one way or the other. It’s clearly not going to break the bank for companies like Amazon.
— Pete, Amazon employee & former Amazon Flex driver