TEANECK – Donna Fotiadis, a long-time Walmart employee, recalls working one night to about 2 a.m. Her next shift began at 5 a.m., three hours later. A contingent of low-wage workers toiling in warehouses, big box stores and food establishments amassed Wednesday in the township’s business district to support state Sen. Loretta Weinberg’s call for a “Fair Workweek.”
Weinberg, who lives in the township, says her legislation will seek to make life easier for workers who face the type of challenges higher-paid employees never encounter.
Among other things, the bill would mandate that employees have reasonable advance notice of their work schedules and that they are paid for being “on call.”
Some of these benefits may seem obvious to many in the workforce, but supporters said low-paid warehouse or food service jobs don’t always have them.
Workers complained about arbitrary demands that they work longer hours with no concern for the needs of their children and families. Of particular concern is being “on call” or asked to stay at home in case
their labors are needed. Workers said they often are not paid for being “on call.”
A study of the problem by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, calculated that the large majority of workers at 120 of the nation’s largest retail and food service firms “have little advance
notice of their schedules: two-thirds have less than two week’s notice and half of those get less than a week’s notice.”
Weinberg said she hopes her bill will begin moving in the “lame duck” session after the election. She said that Sen. Cory Booker has introduced a similar bill in Congress.
The event took place as internal Democratic politics is being roiled by a prospective fight for state party chair between incumbent John Currie and Leroy Jones.
Weinberg seems happy – at least publicly – to stay out of the fray.
Asked about it after the event, she said she was confident the state party would resolve the dispute amicably.
Who does Weinberg like?
“I’m not going to weigh in,” she said.