Message in a bottle

"People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being ­disciplined over 'idle time' and ­losing their jobs just because they needed the loo.” It may sound like a sci-fi reboot of a lesser-known Dickens novel. But it’s a reality at one of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations, based here in Washington state.

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without my boss being able to change it in the snap of the fingers

This morning, Merlee, a parent and Jimmy John's worker in Seattle, came to City Council to testify about how the city's secure scheduling law has affected her life. Here's what she had to say:


"I owe it to my family to provide for them but also to be present and know when I get to invest time. Secure scheduling means I can be home with my kid when I need to — without my boss being able to change it in the snap of the fingers. I know I get to spend that time with my kid when I need to. I get that time for my family.

When I know my schedule I am able to build a life of quality. When I compare jobs and benefits, my secure scheduling & my two weeks' notice are at the top of my list."

“You need to treat them like they’re a human being”: 2 new research reports indicate how workers — and businesses — can benefit from secure scheduling

Together, two new reports out this week — the Seattle scheduling “baseline” report and the Gap "stable scheduling" study — show the extent of scheduling issues workers face, and the potential for policy change to have a positive impact on workers, their families, their communities... and the businesses where they work. As one manager is quoted: “If you want to have a well functioning team... you need to treat them like they’re a human being.”

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We gig workers fall through the cracks in so many ways...

The following post is written by Kimberly, a Working WA member & gig workers' rights activist.

My name is Kimberly, and I've been working for "gig economy" apps like Caviar and Lyft for almost three years. I'm in the process of starting another business, so working in the gig economy pays my bills while I'm getting it off the ground.

There are some things I really like about working for these apps. Chief among them is that I am the master of my schedule and don't need permission from a boss or anyone else as to how and when I work.

However, gig economy workers like me are facing some major issues, too. It's hard to maintain a stable income when the commission structures on our apps change constantly and companies can oversaturate the market at will. Because we're classified as independent contractors, we don't have access to the basic rights & benefits that most other workers in our state enjoy – from a minimum wage to health insurance, from workers' comp and unemployment to retirement. Not only that, but we have to bear all of the costs of doing our work — including additional payroll taxes, gas, wear & tear on our cars, insurance, and more. Many of these costs must be borne regardless of how much or how little we make that month.

Whether you're a gig worker, an app customer, or simply an ally, click here to get involved with our campaign for gig economy workers.

Recently, another car rear-ended me, and my car ended up being out of commission for five weeks. Since I don't have any vacation days or PTO and couldn't access unemployment, I had no income for over a month. The stress of not being able to make my car payment was tremendous. I was worried about the impact of a late payment on my credit score, and even had to beg my landlord to give me more time to pay rent, not knowing if he would say yes or if I'd be out on the street.

If I'd been able to take PTO or even draw a bit of unemployment, I could have at least gotten the rent paid and covered a few basic things. I could have hung in there until I was able to work again, without going into the hole and therefore being even more financially strapped when I was able to get back to work. That's why it's important to me that we advocate for benefits for gig workers. We gig workers fall through the cracks in so many ways – whether it's health, injury, scheduling, or deactivation without investigation – and we all need to get to work and fill in those cracks.

I got involved with Working Washington a few months ago through Facebook. Since then, I've been attending gig worker meetings, speaking out about my experiences, and have emerged as a leader in helping drive our agenda to get fair treatment for all gig workers. Dozens of gig workers like me have come together to advocate for inclusion in the benefits most other workers in our state already get, as well as a fair wage for the work we're doing.

When we're not willing to make a stand and demand that companies treat their workers better, we're passively condoning the exploitation of workers. When workers get access to basic rights, benefits, and a fair wage, we are all lifted up. For real, sustainable change to happen, we've got to raise the floor — and everybody has to be on board.

That's where you come in. There are thousands of workers like me out there who need benefits and better pay. Join us:

This is a serious grassroots effort that must succeed, and once we succeed, we'll be a model for many other states, and even the impetus for a stronger workers' rights movement across the country. It's all about a better future. And to make it happen – we need you.

ICYMI: Diapers @ Seattle City Hall!

In case you missed it: Last Thursday morning, domestic workers with the Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance (SDWA) came together at Seattle City Hall. They assembled a massive village of thousands of diapers and gloves representing nannies & house cleaners across the city. (And Working WA members donated $ to help buy the diapers, which we passed on to WestSide Baby for families in need when the action was over — if you’d like to donate too, click here!)

It was all in the name of making their voices heard in support of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. And the action was a huge success!

After building the display outside City Hall, workers headed inside to take a seat at the table with City Council members and share their stories. Here’s Ty, a nanny, musician, and Working Washington leader, talking about her experience:

nd here’s Etelbina, a house cleaner, sharing her story:

[For transcriptions & translations of the videos, please click here.]

Workers like Ty & Etelbina have led the way for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights — and City Council members are taking notice:

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When workers unite and speak out, big changes happen — and bringing together house cleaners, home care workers, and nannies in one room under one united voice was a huge step forward in making a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights a reality in Seattle.

The Bill of Rights would ensure domestic workers get basic rights like the minimum wage, paid time off, and protections from harassment and discrimination. Most importantly, it establishes a worker council — a governing body made up of workers, employers, and city representatives — so that workers have a voice in setting higher industry standards. Click here if you’d like to donate to keep us moving forward.

Working Washington

P.S. Want to check out more coverage from the event? Check out the articles in the Seattle Times and the Stranger.

Thousands of diapers, thousands of workers

On Thursday, March 15, domestic workers and supporters will gather at Seattle City Hall to assemble a village of thousands of diapers and gloves to represent the thousands of nannies and house cleaners who work in homes across the city.

Why? Nannies, house cleaners, cooks, & gardeners in Seattle are leading the way for the rest of the state by organizing for a citywide Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. This will ensure domestic workers get the basic rights and benefits every worker needs — like healthcare and retirement, protection from harassment and discrimination, workers’ comp and unemployment, and a voice in the issues that affect their jobs.

Domestic workers have been an invisible part of our workforce for too long — and we need to make sure they’re seen & heard. So workers will be creating a massive display of their tools of the trade outside of City Hall to make sure they’re seen by as many people as possible! Then, they'll be heading inside to share their stories directly with City Council members.

Want to support these workers and help make sure their voices are heard? Click here!

Domestic workers in Seattle are leading the way for Washington. We need to make sure they have a seat at the table when it comes to creating legislation that will improve their working conditions. If you want to show your support for their work and the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, click here!

All kinds of workers are coming together to support the nannies, house cleaners, cooks, and gardeners who have worked in the shadows of our labor laws for far too long. We can’t do it without your support!

extra extra

It's finally here: the very first edition of our bimonthly (that's the every-two-months bimonthly, not the twice-a-month bimonthly) Member Memo! Get caught up on the new paid sick days law, Starbucks' paid family leave policy, our petition to L&I to stop minimum wage surcharges at businesses, and more!

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Apparently some of the big business lobby groups at the state capitol are saying they have “concerns” about equal pay bill. In 2018. Well we have some concerns about that.

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