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Connecticut Lawmakers To Consider 'Fair Work' Schedules

Connecticut house chamber
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public Radio
The House chamber on opening day of the Connecticut General Assembly's 2020 legislative session

Labor advocates want to make sure hourly service workers in Connecticut have hours and wages they can depend on.

They’re hoping lawmakers pass a bill in the 2020 legislative session that would curb on-call scheduling practices. That’s a proposal that would’ve helped Chenae Russell when she was a retail worker.

“In retail is where experienced a lot of the on-call shifts, or cancelled shifts, or hours that varied and I couldn’t count on the money,” Russell said.

Russell dreaded those cancellations because with having a daughter and having to get to work, she’d lock down childcare before knowing about work being cancelled.

“I provide for her – and also for myself – and that’s money I needed and now I don’t have,” Russell said.

She was at the State Capitol on the opening day of the legislative session handing out fliers in support of a proposal called the Fair Work Act.

“What happens so often is you can’t live on a part-time job, so you work two or three jobs,” said State Sen. Julie Kushner (D-Bethel, Danbury, New Milford, Sherman) a proponent of the bill.

“One of the things that becomes most frustrating is when your employer on one job requires you to stay late or come in on a day you weren’t scheduled, you have to choose between which job are you going to actually hold on to and that’s not right.”

To combat that problem, Kushner wants to make sure these types of workers are notified well in advance of a day they’re needed to come in.

But Eric Gjede, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association’s vice president of government affairs, believes the proposal is anti-business.

“Certain industries have to deal with unpredictable situations,” Gjede said. “Otherwise, if you take away this ability to either send employees home or cancel shifts, you are going to essentially force Connecticut businesses to incur losses and incur expenses that they simply cannot afford to do.”

This bill would have a large impact -- Kushner said there are 350,000 part-time workers in Connecticut. 

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