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March Madness: Sweet 16 runs

LA City Council passes ordinance providing schedule stability for retail workers

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved “Fair Work Week LA,” an ordinance seeking to expand worker protections with standards such as 10-hour breaks between shifts. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Matthew Royer and Sharla Steinman

Nov. 27, 2022 10:17 p.m.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to expand worker protections by mandating retailers give two weeks of notice for assigned hours and 10-hour breaks in between shifts.

The council voted 10-0 to approve the ordinance calling for a “Fair Work Week LA” following a campaign for increased labor rights from unions such as United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. Many advocates cited a 2018 report from the UCLA Labor Center, which found that 77% of retail workers lacked consistent schedules and saw drastic fluctuations in weekly hours. The report also estimated 43% of student workers have missed classes because of schedule conflicts.

The new law now awaits confirmation from the council early next week and will allow the city to enforce the standards on retailers in LA with more than 300 employees globally. It will also grant employees the right to request schedule changes and provides protections for employees who may face retaliation.

Many council members expressed support for the proposal, voicing a need for respecting workers over employer interests.

District 5 Councilmember Paul Koretz, whose district includes UCLA and Westwood, co-sponsored the measure. In 2019, Koretz presented a similar motion alongside Council members Curren Price and Paul Krekorian. However, it did not pass because of the council’s focus on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the LA Times.

“It’s exciting to see this here now and the tremendous good that this will do for our almost 150,000 workers who will be positively affected,” Koretz said during the meeting. “This is, … in my view, one of the proudest moments of the LA City Council, and I am so excited to see us here.”

If fully approved, the law would also apply to Westwood’s Trader Joe’s and Target stores. The retail industry is LA’s second largest employer, employing mostly women and people from communities of color, according to the UFCW Local 770.

Local workers’ rights organizations and unions, including UFCW Local 770 and LAANE, commended the vote in a Tuesday press release, noting that the ordinance will help workers care for their families, attend school and plan their finances.

While there was not any public opposition from council members, the California Retailers Association spoke out against the measure during committee stages.

In February, the CRA expressed concern over potential mandates for written employer-employee communications in the ordinance, as well as other implementation concerns such as the ordinance’s original January start date. While the Council has delayed the start date to April, a spokesperson for the CRA said in an emailed statement that several of its concerns from February remain.

In a written statement, Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, also criticized the ordinance for being approved without thorough economic analysis.

“This is an example of how not to legislate. At the end of the day the ‘un-fair workweek’ will hurt more employees than it help,” Waldman added in the statement, referring to the ordinance’s title.

The Council will decide whether to approve the ordinance Tuesday.

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Matthew Royer | City and crime editor
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