Regulation

Shiftless in Seattle: Lawmakers Pass Onerous New Scheduling Ordinance

Seattle city council seeks to micromanage workers' schedules.

|

Munitions workers
Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer / Wikimedia Commons

The Seattle City Council last Monday passed a sweeping "secure scheduling" ordinance by a unanimous vote, making it only the second city in the nation to take a direct role in regulating how businesses set employee schedules.

Under the new ordinance—effective July 1, 2017—certain employers will be required to tell their workers two weeks in advance which shifts they will be working.

Should an employee be called in for extra hours, say, to replace a sick co-worker, the employer will have to pay him added "predictability pay." Should an employee be sent home early—maybe because business is slow or a delivery is late—the employer must compensate him for half the hours he was scheduled to work.

In addition, on-call staff will earn half pay for shifts when they are not called into work, while those employees that have less than 10 hours between two shifts will receive time and a half. Managers will also be required to offer any additional hours to current employees before taking on new hires.

The stated purpose of the ordinance—aside from creating more predictable schedules—is to provide employees with "secure incomes" by ensuring them adequate hours.

Not getting as much work as they would like is a source of frustration for many Seattle workers. In a recent study commissioned by the city, some 30 percent of workers reported wanting more hours, and 10 percent reported difficulty in paying bills due to a lack of hours.

Helping eager employees work more and earn more is a laudable goal for the Seattle City Council. It is also a bizarre one, given how many disincentives it has created to businesses giving employees extra hours.

In 2012 Seattle passed a bill requiring businesses to provide one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours an employee works, raising the hourly cost of each worker. Then in 2015, the city passed its notorious $15-an-hour minimum wage law, raising that hourly cost still further. Indeed, a July study put out by the University of Washington (UW) found that the mandated wage increase has led to fewer hours worked per-employee and slightly less overall employment for Seattle's lowest-paid workers, compared to similar earners in other parts of the state.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also bears some of the blame for the lack of hours, says John Vigdora, the UW economist who authored the July study on the city's new wage floor. Many employees have found their hours cut by employers looking to avoid the employer-provided-insurance mandate in the ACA, which kicks in only when someone works hours over a certain threshold, he explains.

Whether the new scheduling regulation will help workers get these hours back remains an open question, and Vigdor speculates that employers that are particularly concerned with their level of customer service may choose to absorb the costs of the new law, maintaining current staffing levels. Businesses in a more precarious financial situation, on the other hand, or less reliant on offering good customer service, are likely to respond by cutting hours.

In San Francisco—the only other city to adopt secure scheduling legislation—many businesses have indeed cut back on staff. A study conducted six months after the law went into effect found that "in response to the ordinance, 1 in 5 surveyed businesses had cut back on the number of part-time hires, and a similar number were scheduling fewer employees per shift," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Reason queried each member of the Seattle City Council on whether they thought Seattle businesses might behave similiarly. Tim Burgess and Mike O'Brian declined to comment; the rest did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Advertisement

NEXT: The Justice Department Won't Stop Going to Bat for Bad Science

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Welcome to the Socialist Republic of Seattle!

    1. The city council seems to be mostly made up of attorneys and community organizers with at least one full blown socialist.

      Alongside being a teacher, Kshama is an activist, organizer, and socialist, and is a member of Socialist Alternative, in solidarity with the Committee for a Workers’ International, which organizes for working-class interests on every continent.

      While growing up in India, Kshama was always conscious of the extreme poverty and inequality surrounding her. After working as a computer engineer, she came to the US to study economics in order to better understand the root causes of oppression and poverty. Upon arriving in the US, the richest country in the world, Kshama was surprised and radicalized by the inequality and poverty that exists here.

      Someone didn’t learn a damn thing from growing up in India about the effects of socialism.

      1. Upon arriving in the US, the richest country in the world, Kshama was surprised and radicalized by the inequality and poverty that exists here.

        You’d also think she would understand the difference between relative poverty and true poverty, which doesn’t actually exist in the US.

        1. Willfully ignorant I would guess.

        2. Where the fuck did she grow up in India that she thinks poverty and inequality are worse here?

      2. “Radicalized”? I hope she’s on a list.

      3. Paging Injun…

      4. We should introduce her to Shikha Dalmia

    2. They elected a real socialist to city council and she infected everybody else with the disease. I hope they all get everything they want, good and hard.

      1. When their plans have bad results, they will just have to socialist harder.

    3. Anybody can earn 450$+ daily.. You can earn from 9000-14000 a month or even more if you work as a full time job.. It’s easy, just follow instructions on this page, read it carefully from start to finish.. It’s a flexible job but a good eaning opportunity. Go to this site home tab for more detail… http://tinyurl.com/h3mergo

  2. I’m beginning to wonder if Seattle’s city council secretly hates the city and wants everyone to abandon it.

    1. More likely they’re just idiots.

      1. I’m guessing they’re mostly smart people who have adopted some false premises, and then are following the logic dictated by those incorrect premises to idiotic conclusions. It’s like switching the “hot” and “cold” settings on a shower, so moving the dial to colder makes it hotter – unless you realize the settings are incorrect, you’re going to keep moving the dial further and further from the optimal setting.

        1. Eventually the results should teach you something, however.

          1. Eventually, sure. Still waiting for the voters remaining in Detroit to draw the obvious lessons.

            Sometimes all that happens is that a city becomes an object lessons to those who left.

    2. Nah…. they’ve just been drinking the cool-aid. If you’ve spent your whole life being told that there is an endless fountain of money that is being hoarded by the evil corporations and their wealthy owners, it just makes sense to mandate that all of that money get spread around a little more fairly.

      The comical part is that they cannot understand what you are saying if you try to talk about economic incentives with them. They just hear “greedy” and “unfair”.

    3. City of Seattle is in the process of eliminating anyone who can’t or wont put up with their general shenanigans. Easiest way to collect tax money in order to create systemic perfection is to make sure that the only people in your jurisdiction are people with witless political sensibilities and money. Read techworker Millenials and xers. Da gumint will provide all the necessary support systems to insure that your little tech world fantasy comes true. Read $27 burgers (organically grown in the protein vats) served in your automaton restaurants where the dispensors are all colored different skin colors to increase your awareness that you live in a perfect diverse community where you ride around in your little servo cars – jes’ pick them up at yer local stop ‘n go – to get to and from work, where you can conveniently ignore that the tech that supports your perfect little urban fantasy world has increased your individual carbon footprint atrociously, where the politicians are always concerned, the kids are always happy (and SMART! to boot) and where you can live unconcerned with the fact that the life you live is a poisonous reincarnation of the sect of ME ME ME. Gives me the screaming me me meemies I am fucking dissembling here…………

      1. Nice rant. I really liked the ending.

  3. I have two words for you son: Robot Revolution.

  4. The stated purpose of the ordinance?aside from creating more predictable schedules?is to provide employees with “secure incomes” by ensuring them adequate hours.

    And isn’t that what government is for?

    1. I watched some of the presidential debate, and I can report that this is indeed the case. Governments create jobs. And the bring jobs back.

      Good jobs. Like jobs in technology… and innovation!

      Yup. That’s what government is for….

  5. And, just like California, people will still live there, and businesses will still open.

    Progressivism could be killed overnight if people would just nut the fuck up and move to Mississippi, but they ridiculously insist that things other than politics factor into where they live. It is your moral and patriotic duty to move to abandon the northeast and west coasts, and move to the Deep South. If you don’t, you are through revealed preference stating your love for and absolute support of communism.

    1. Well, there goes my desire to stay an undercover commie.

    2. I would move to the deep south if it wasn’t for all the scary banjo music and creepy meth clowns roaming the woods.

      1. That’s the best parts!

        /CJ

    3. “It is your moral and patriotic duty to move to abandon the northeast and west coasts, and move to the Deep South.”

      Oh goodness, this will just end with the Deep being destroyed too. Mississippi is doing something right if outsiders are scared to move there. (I also plan on retiring there, don’t want too many neighbors)

    4. If you continue to live and work in a jurisdiction with dysfunctional policies and support it with your tax dollars that’s fine, but don’t expect much sympathy if you should ever choose to kvetch about your plight. You’re not a fucking battered wife, okay? You chose where you live. If you can tolerate the political dysfunction in exchange for not having to share your neighborhood with ignorant white hicks or whatever other subjective benefits you are willing to trade for it then have at it.

      1. “Subjective” benefits like a good job, for tech workers…

        Although I think it will be viable within a fiew years to work 95-100% remote, at which point I’ll move somewhere where I Can’t see my neighbors without a short drive

  6. Eventually, all will look to Seattle as the shining beacon on the hill.

    1. A warning beacon.

      Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

    2. That’s just the light reflecting off all of the robots which will call Seattle their home.

  7. The affordable care act portion of the equation should not be overlooked. For someone at the very bottom of the pay scale, health insurance can be over half of their pay.

    I’ve been working to help a family in our church that is really struggling to get themselves on their feet. She only gets part time hours because of the healthcare provisions. She takes home some $300-ish per week. Healthcare for her family of 3 would be somewhere around $1,000 per month if it were provided by her employer.

    Is it any wonder they split the job among extra workers to keep from doubling their labor costs?

    So instead we all pick up the tab for medicaid.

    1. Not only that but the hours bit Is going to be murderous on hospitals, which can be very unstable in terms of labor needs. Way to bring down the cost of medicine Seattle…

  8. This is what happens when they blame Venezuelan grocery lines on low oil prices.

  9. Not to mention how fucking expensive it is to live in Seattle…. I worked up there the full year ’06 and it’s God’s Own Earth. I’d still be there today if I could have afforded anything outside of a crummy apartment way out in the suburbs. Guess you pay dearly if you want to live somewhere like that….

  10. “To: All Employees
    From: Management
    Re: The new scheduling rules.

    You may have heard of the new ordinance regarding scheduling employees. We have run the numbers and worked out the only viable solution. All employees will have Zero (0) hours. We will also be locking the doors and auctioning off assets.”

    1. And thus stability is reached.

  11. Not getting as much work as they would like is a source of frustration for many Seattle workers. In a recent study commissioned by the city, some 30 percent of workers reported wanting more hours, and 10 percent reported difficulty in paying bills due to a lack of hours.

    Seattle city council: “We’ll solve that problem by turning them into non-workers!!”

  12. It turns out you can give low-income workers a gigantic pay raise and keep unemployment low. The CATO Institute must be wiping the scrambled eggs off their face with windshield wipers about now.

    Seattle Unemployment Rate

    It turns out that if you measure the rate of change in employment from July to August of 2016 the unemployment rate is decreasing at 48%/yr. Wow! At this rate we’all have to smuggle in more Syrian ISIS members to keep up with the labor demand. A blow for public safety to be sure– maybe concealed carry will help.

    1. Once again, fuck you.

    2. Let’s look at the details by industry.

      Total nonfarm 95,300
      Education and health services 19,800
      Construction 14,600
      Government 13,800
      Professional and business services 12,800
      Retail trade 9,600
      Information 6,800
      Leisure and hospitality 6,200
      Transportation, warehousing and utilities 5,300
      Financial activities 4,500
      Other services 3,900
      Wholesale trade 2,000
      Mining and logging 500
      Manufacturing -4,500

      1. Look, if american socialist understand things like numbers and facts, he wouldn’t be a socialist.

        1. Uh, what does this minimum payment on my mortgage contract mean? Are you saying I have to pay it every month?

        2. I turned the graph upside down on page 2 and that worked better in understanding the predictive worth of pop-Austrian economic theory. Thanks, guys!

          1. There isn’t a person on earth who believes you’re capable of understanding anything.

          2. Unlike Marxism, Austrian economic theory hasn’t been the cause of over a hundred million deaths.

          3. pop-Austrian economic theory

            What is nonsense for $800, Alex?

    3. Washington’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August 2016 is 5.7 percent. The revised estimated July 2016 unemployment rate was at 5.8 percent. The August 2015 unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.

      Reading, for AmSoc, is hard.

      Not to mention comprehension. If, due to incentives from such laws, an employer turns one 40 hour job into two 20 hour jobs, employment has DOUBLED! Whee!

      1. Yup…

        “Not getting as much work as they would like is a source of frustration for many Seattle workers.”

        1. Working is hard and stuff. It would so much easier if all those fat-cats just handed over their money to us like they’re supposed to.

    4. Masked of course by Amazon moving to SLU and going on a hiring binge that doesn’t include entry level uneducated workers

    5. Dishonest, stupid, and short is no way to go through life, Joe.

    6. you’re citing unemployment rates from when the law hasn’t taken effect yet for the most part you lying retarded hack.

    7. Uhm, you forgot the Seattle out-migration comparison numbers.

      And the numbers of Seattlites that have removed themselves from the job market.

      But you’re right – you can certainly boost the wages of low-paid workers and maintain a high employment rate. If you drive away all the people who have become unemployed and refuse to count the long-term welfare recipients ‘because they’re not in the looking-for-a-job category;.

      But that’s something you didn’t consider.

      As they say – they difference between a socialist and a good economist is that the good economist looks for the unseen.

      1. After all, the French economy is one of the most efficient in the world. Because of high minimum wages, difficulty in firing low performers, and heavy regulation. So only the best people get to work – the rest languish in the banlieues in between flipping Citroens.

        20%+ youth and minority unemployment rates – because, unfortunately, they can’t drive out their embarrassments.

      2. The difference between a socialist and ANY economist is having a basic knowledge of economics.

  13. What a bunch of fucking idiots. I mean really. They are all fucking idiots. Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.Fucking idiots. Fucking idiots.

    1. Fucking idiots who live in a thriving, prosperous and healthy city. What’s wrong with them and why don’t they want to like in Tulsa, Oklahoma like clear-headed Trump supporters.

      1. When a downturn happens many more people will be let go because of the minimum wage. Seattle’s economy is very healthy right now in spite of these ordinances not because of them.

        1. Bingo. Bubbles sustain all sorts of insanity. When it ends, it’s always much worse for those with structural problems in their economies.

        2. thriving, prosperous and healthy

          I wonder what their unfunded liabilities are.

          Hint: there is no city in America that can plausibly call itself “thriving, prosperous and healthy” when the citizens are being bled dry to support the cushy lifestyles of the well-connected.

          1. Presently, the unfunded liability of the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System, which covers 78 percent of the city’s workforce that includes your neighborhood librarian and local parks department staff, exceeds $1 billion. The amount is a financial calculation of what the city would have to pay if all the pension obligations came due at once.

            While such a one-time payout is highly unlikely, it is a real liability over time, and it reflects a fivefold increase since 2008.

            From 2014, and during a market bubble.

            1. And they’ll handwave it all away with rosy predictions of future revenues. Never mind that they will also accrue new obligations in the future, too.

              Somehow, we will bankrupt ourselves into prosperity.

            2. And if they do their pension math like most municpalities, you can be sure that $1BB is grossly understated.

        3. …in spite of, not because of.

          Those words. Right there.

      2. How about you move to Venezuela, you fucking moron.

        1. Venezuela doesn’t have the right Top Men in charge, but Seattle does. Why can’t you understand that?

      3. Gojira|9.29.16 @ 10:40AM|#

        And, just like California, people will still live there, and businesses will still open.

        Progressivism could be killed overnight if people would just nut the fuck up and move to Mississippi, but they ridiculously insist that things other than politics factor into where they live. It is your moral and patriotic duty to move to abandon the northeast and west coasts, and move to the Deep South. If you don’t, you are through revealed preference stating your love for and absolute support of communism.

      4. Warren Buffett chose Tulsa over Seattle or San Francisco.

        1. Actually, Omaha, but same difference.

      5. The owner of the Seattle Supersonics sure preferred Oklahoma to Seattle.

        1. The players probably prefer the tax rate too.

      6. Fucking idiots who live in a thriving, prosperous and healthy city.

        …said AmSoc from Pittsburgh in 1970, Cleveland in 1968, Detroit in 1965…

        1. “Socialism works okay until you run out of other people’s money”

          – Some old biddy in a foreign land

  14. Helping eager employees work more and earn more is a laudable goal for the Seattle City Council.

    No, it damn well is fucking not. The government has no business interfering in private agreements between employer and employee.

  15. Businesses in a more precarious financial situation, on the other hand, or less reliant on offering good customer service, are likely to respond by cutting hours.

    Well then I guess the city council will just have to pass more laws to fix that problem.

  16. Seattle has a fucking Lenin statue on display. What did you expect?

    1. To be fair, it frequently has “murder” written on it in red. Or he’s wearing a silly hat.

      The troll statue is cooler.

      1. When I’m wealthy, I’m going to buy that statue and put it on my front lawn. I’ll then commission a 5x larger statue of Reagan stomping on him. (Would be better if I was actually planning on STAYING in Seattle, but I’m trying to GTFO.)

        1. “Would be better if I was actually planning on STAYING in Seattle, but I’m trying to GTFO.”

          I’m looking at leaving and going back to the South as well, might just leave Fremont and go to West Seattle and say “good enough” though.

  17. HAHAHAHAH

    Not getting as much work as they would like is a source of frustration for many Seattle workers. In a recent study commissioned by the city, some 30 percent of workers reported wanting more hours, and 10 percent reported difficulty in paying bills due to a lack of hours.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAH

    “So, guys, listen, we’re underemployed. Labor conditions are obviously so loose that we can’t find all the work we want to do. What we need is a law making demand for our labor even lower.”

    Oh my God these people are thoroughgoing morons.

  18. So are Boeing and Microsoft campuses located within the city limits or outside?

    1. Way outside. I think the law is targeting the unskilled anyway. Hence their imminent replacement by tech.

    2. Redmond is like 45 minutes east of Seattle proper. Boeing moved their HQ to Chicago and a lot of their new manufacturing that wasn’t already ransomed to the unions to South Carolina.

      1. Why on Earth would they want to leave?

        “‘The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,’ she said.

        Sawant says after workers “take-over” the Everett Boeing plant; they could build things everyone can use.

        ‘We can re-tool the machines to produce mass transit like buses, instead of destructive, you know, war machines,'”

        http://www.kiro7.com/news/seat…../246045525

        1. That’s going to work out so much better than all the other times it’s been tried, I’m sure.

          Fun fact: just because you can manufacture one piece of a vast and complicated system does not mean you can assemble the entire thing.

          1. As someone said earlier, I guess they should nut up. Start their own businesses. Risk their own capital. Design and market their own goods. It should be easy, right?

            1. They could even call it the “Twenty-first Century Motor Company”…

    3. Outside. Boeing’s main facilities are in Renton (to the south) and Everett (to the north). Microsoft’s main campus is in Redmond with some offices in Bellevue, two cities to the east of Seattle that are rapidly making Seattle look like even more of a dilapidated shithole by comparison.

  19. I originally misread the headline as “shirtless in Seattle”, which is kind of appropriate I guess, since that’s what all the business owners are going to be eventually.

  20. Probable response: employers offer strict shifts, no bargaining for schedule. Two employees per shift, shifts lasting 3 or 4 hours, if one employee calls in the other covers all the work and the sick employee is terminated for cause within a couple weeks.

    1. Yeah, they really haven’t thought through the incentives they are creating.

  21. Seattle or some other retarded left-wing city infested with ignorant buffoons will outlaws cutting back hours. Watch.

    Here’s the thing. Maybe we’re watching in real time how a city begins its collapse.

    It’s a tried and true story that has stood the test of time.

    I guarantee you if any of those pieces of shit parasites actually ran a business they’d either break the law or ignore it. That’s how progressives roll. Losers are gonna lose.

  22. Tonynomics.

    The Seattle near suburbs all just started to give with feral grins….

  23. I was in Seattle last year for a couple of weeks and bought a bunch of bourbon for my hotel room (it was thirsty). The tax on it was something like 35%. That is tyranny of the highest order.

    1. Rest assured that money ain’t going into ‘better civilization’.

      That much is guaranteed.

    2. How much bourbon can a hotel room drink, and did it leave any for you?

  24. Gojira makes a valid point above that I don’t believe people ever seriously address. Very rarely do you ever actually get to the death which followed the 1,000 cuts. This is because you only get 500 cuts. So everything still works. In fact, for the lucky few who are able to retain jobs, everything works great. Which creates more incentive to do more regulatory tweaking.

    The fact that these processes exacerbate, and not reduce, net wealth is not relevant. That’s because for most people anecdotes always trump statistical analysis. No one is looking at the big picture. Just their own wallet and their immediate circle’s wallets.

    So this regulation will live on. And it will prove to the masses that it’s possible to have it exist and not destroy the economy. The net negative effect on wealth will never be a factor in the social consciousness. And the failure to impact aggregate poverty will continue to be seen as a problem of redistribution and not of mismanagement of the economic circumstances that people operate under.

    And thus, the Leviathan continues to expand.

  25. Seattle passes law that gives more sick time. Employees take more sick time. Employers forced to cover shifts making employee schedules very dynamic. Seattle then passes law that makes it expensive for schedules to shift. Employers then start heavily restricting schedule shifting. So no more picking up Timmy from school a little early cause of something unforeseen cause because Bob can’t cover your schedule. So next Seattle will pass some new law to fix the problem with the second law that was to fix the problem with the first law. It is like watching a Road Runner cartoon. You think at some point Willie will stop ordering from ACME and take his money to the local diner for a good Turkey dinner but you know they won’t.

  26. Seattle has gone full-retard on employment. Expect black-market/cash employment agreements to sky-rocket.

  27. FASCISM defined: government control of private means of production.

    If this insanity ain’t fascism, its never been seen before on this planet.

    But, whaddyaspeck from Sea-addle?

  28. And this is why my business will be moving outside of Seattle city limits when I need to hire people (who aren’t just “contractors”). If not entirely outside of King county. King country does some dumb stuff, and could have a lot fewer dumb rules/taxes, but really it is literally just the city of Seattle government that has done all the outright crazy shit.

    At the state level Washington has actually managed to stay pretty sane too. However I really feel that is going to change any time now. As a native Californian it seems to me like the massive influx of people to the Seattle area is finally almost at the point where the state level government is going to shift towards California levels of dumb too.

    When that happens I can’t help but consider moving to Texas and finally being free of the commies. As someone who doesn’t smoke weed or plan on having girlfriends need 30 abortions I can’t help but think I can deal with the petty tyrannies in a red state sooooo much easier.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.