Restaurant Worker, Western, Massachusetts
May name is A. and I live in South Deerfield. Unfortunately, I can’t be there in person today, but I want to share my testimony in support of the Fair Work Week Bill. I spent six years working as a waitress and retail clerk. While I enjoyed the work, it was ultimately the inconsistent hours, unpredictable pay, and employer retaliation that led me to leave the industry.
I worked in retail and as a waitress during college to help pay my way and cover expenses. At my retail job I often struggled to get enough hours and could never count on these hours to be consistent. Initially my employer would schedule me for 20 to 25 hours a week, but this would vary as sometimes I’d receive a schedule for 10 hours that week and 30 hours the week after. I never knew what to expect and often didn’t receive advance schedules to plan my weeks. Despite requesting specific times off, I’d sometimes be scheduled to work the same time I had class. When I brought this up to my boss, he’d say I needed to choose between keeping the shift and keeping the job.
When I worked as a waitress, I faced the same issues of unpredictable hours that varied wildly week to week and I often wouldn’t receive my schedule until the day before I was expected to work. I would be scheduled to work a closing shift and the next day be scheduled to open the café leaving me with only a seven-hour break between shift. Without an advanced schedule I wasn’t able to count on a steady paycheck to help make my rent. Instead I ended up taking out more student loans that many years later I’m still struggling to pay off. I urge you to pass the Fair Work Week Bill. It would go a long way towards addressing many of the issues that make service and retail such an unstable place to work.