UCLA Labor Center

Press Release: New Report Shows Los Angeles Retail Workers Face Hours Crisis




March 14, 2018
Media Contact: Veena Hampapur, veenash@ucla.edu, (213) 480-4155 x212


New Report Shows Los Angeles Retail Workers Face Hours Crisis

Unreliable and Insufficient Hours Create Hardships for LA Retail Workers

LOS ANGELES – A new study by the
UCLA Labor Center, a unit of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, finds that 8 in 10 workers in the Los Angeles retail sector lack a set work schedule — their work days, shift times, and number of hours can vary drastically each week. Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector is the first comprehensive study conducted in Los Angeles that details the adverse impacts of unpredictable scheduling on the city’s 140,000+ retail workers. Notably, retail is the second largest employment sector in Los Angeles County, after the healthcare industry.

According to the report, 77% of retail workers receive a week or less notice of their schedules, and the majority face last-minute scheduling changes, including cancellation, after their hours have been posted. “I’ve checked my schedule Sunday morning, and have seen I’m working later in the week. When I check again that evening, I find out I’m now working the next day. I can’t plan anything,” said Noemi Castro, a local retail worker. “If I have a conflict and say I can’t work, my manager threatens to not give me enough hours after that.”

Though part-time work and nonstandard hours are common in the retail industry, the report finds that half of retail workers desire more hours, with the majority wanting 40 hours or more each week to make ends meet. “Even when retails workers are available to work, they often don’t get enough hours because stores hire new workers to fill those shifts,” said Nelson Motto, director of the Fair Workweek campaign at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), an advocacy organization dedicated to building a new economy.

The study finds that an unreliable schedule essentially translates to unstable income. 1 in 2 workers are late paying bills. Insufficient hours and unreasonable scheduling lead retail workers to strain to meet their basic needs.

“Almost half of retail workers supporting children struggle with childcare because of their fluctuating hours and income. And too often students are forced to choose between school and their need to earn a living,” said Janna Shadduck-Hernández, report co-author and Project Director at the UCLA Labor Center. “Big corporations are forcing caretakers, parents, and students to scramble to meet last-minute, unreliable work hours, and this harms our communities and slows down the economy.”

The report notes recent local and statewide strengthening of workers’ rights protections, such as the minimum wage increase and paid sick time, are rendered irrelevant for many retail workers due to their unstable work schedules. Report authors recommend developing better scheduling standards and work hour policies; partnerships between workers, employers, and policymakers to reimagine scheduling; and using technologies to support fair hours. They also emphasize the necessity of work-life balance, policy enforcement, and expanding research on scheduling practices.

The report is based on surveys with over 800 Los Angeles retail workers, conducted between December 2016 and June 2017, as well as government data and existing policy and academic literature.

Download the full report here: http://bit.ly/HourCrisis2018


**Please contact Veena Hampapur to schedule interviews with report authors and local retail workers.**

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The UCLA Labor Center believes that a public university belongs to the people and should advance quality education and employment for all. Every day we bring together workers, students, faculty, and policymakers to address the most critical issues facing working people today. Our research, education, and policy work lifts industry standards, creates jobs that are good for communities, and strengthens immigrant rights, especially for students and youth. The UCLA Labor Center is housed in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the study, teaching, and discussion of labor and employment issues at UCLA.

LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy) is a nationally recognized advocacy organization dedicated to building a new economy for all. Combining dynamic research, innovative public policy, and strategic organizing of broad alliances, LAANE promotes a new economic approach based on good jobs, thriving communities, and a healthy environment. For the past 25 years, LAANE has been at the forefront of Los Angeles’ progressive movement, transforming conditions in key industries and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of working families in southern California.