Seattle fast food and coffee workers launched a campaign for secure scheduling in Seattle. We know that #OurTimeCounts so we invited Seattle Councilmembers Gonzalez and Herbold to listen to our struggles with scheduling. We then asked them questions about how they would support this effort for secure scheduling in a live streamed worker forum.
Ilana: So we know there is going to be push back from the corporations, so my question is: How are you going to handle that? Especially with companies that started here like Starbucks, REI, all of them. How are you going to deal with that?
Councilmember Gonzalez: What do we do and how do we deal with that? I think one of the most difficult parts about being an elected official is finding that balance and I think that’s part of our responsibility as elected officials and it’s part of your responsibility to keep us honest and to push us and to advocate for what you believe is the best solution for workers. And there’s no doubt that we will hear from big business and from these employers. It’s going to be important to listen to their perspective, but also be very clear with the intention of making sure that this policy passes so that we are doing the right thing for workers and working families and in particular women and people of color who are primarily represented in these particular industries.
Councilmember Herbold: I think one of the best ways of dealing with the inevitable push back we’ll get is by making it commonly understood that this is a problem for our community and by city leaders making a space for you to mobilize to get that message out.
Darrion: If we improve the lives of students, mothers, and a third of our community and make businesses better doing it, who’s losing?
Councilmember Herbold: As far as who loses, who loses if we don’t do this? It’s our community. We talk a lot about affordable housing in this city and the fact that we have these goals to produce 20,000 new affordable housing units and that’s great and laudable. But, a big portion of dealing with affordable housing is wages and the ability of people to go to school so that they can earn higher wages. I think that this is an issue that really touches people in a lot of different ways and touches our community in a lot of different ways. I’m looking forward to working with you guys on it.
Councilmember Gonzalez: I don’t necessarily think it is going to harm anyone, again as elected officials it’s our responsibility to make sure that that’s the case right? That we are helping as many people as we can. What I find really inspiring from all of you from what you said was how much you love your work, and how much you love your jobs. Part of the solution here is going to be to make sure that you continue to have those jobs and I think that is something that I am certainly up to the task to try and accomplish with your support and with your help.
Crystal: Will you guys support and help all Seattle workers obtain a secure schedule?
Councilmember Gonzalez: The answer is yes. I think it’s good for workers and in particular it’s good for women who have kids who are trying to juggle that and in a broader sense it’s obviously good for workers in the sense that it provides that income stability and that predictability that we all need and we all treasure and be able to fully function and be completely successful in whatever it is we are trying to do. So I think it is incredibly important to be in support of this particular policy concept.
Councilmember Herbold: To answer the question, I will absolutely be supportive of your efforts.
Grant: What are you guys going to do to protect our interests?
Councilmember Herbold: I really relate to Crystal’s experience. I was a low income working mom, working in the restaurant industry while also trying to go to college. I routinely had to make the choice between school and work whether I was going to go to class or go to a shift that I just found out about. Lorena and I, I think, are a great team to work on this issue because of our personal experiences.
Councilmember Gonzalez: I think I kinda already answered that a little bit, but hearing from you all, understanding from the ground level, what the issues are. I was a lawyer for ten years representing low-wage workers, women, monolingual Spanish speakers, a lot of who worked in the service industry. And I represented workers on claims of wage theft and not being able to get rest breaks and did that both in small cases and represented hundreds of people in class actions who were being ripped off from wages. You know, having their wages ripped off. So this is something that is very important to me. And even as a lawyer, I prioritized not lawyering from an ivory tower. It was important to me to get a better understanding, a street level understanding of what it meant to be impacted by not being able to take a rest break, by not being able to get overtime.
I’ll just add to that that I myself was a low-wage worker. I worked three jobs to pay for college and to get my way through college I worked at daycare, I worked at a bank, I worked at a fast food restaurant. I did a lot of odd and ends jobs and I grew up as a migrant farm worker, so I understand what it means to have a lack of predictability and how important it is to building success and having opportunities to really achieve a good life, not just for yourself, but for your children if you have them or for your future children if you want them.