Disciplined at work for caring for my sick child: Why retail work needs a makeover!
My name is Tamara Green, and I’m a single mother of two from Bed Stuy in Brooklyn. For two years, I was a top salesperson at Estee Lauder’s Aveda store in Grand Central Station. I was just forced to quit because my hours had gotten cut to just 10 hours a week – My last week, I was only scheduled for 4 hours. Here I was, selling $90 shampoo and $35 hand lotion, but getting paychecks that made providing for my family impossible. I needed to work full time and asked for more hours all the time. But because I was considered part-time, my hours and paycheck fluctuated all time.
My youngest daughter is 6 years old, and she’s had more than her fair share of medical problems. She’s had to go to the ER a few times. One time, after I’d already called my store from the hospital, I received a call telling me I still had to come in. Despite having a doctor’s note, I still was disciplined, and missed out on the income for that shift. When I asked why I had no right to a sick day for my child, they told me it’s because I’m part-time.
I am not alone. This is happening to retail workers across the country, and that’s why I’m working with other retail workers at Retail Action Project (RAP) to kick off our Sustainable Scheduling Campaign. Together, we’re addressing the underemployment crisis caused by corporate retailers’ abusive part-time scheduling practices.
I’d like to introduce you to another fellow retail worker, Bintou Kamara. Bintou is a cashier at Abercrombie & Fitch who just started a petition asking for a fair schedule that she can live off of. Each week, Bintou and her co-workers are scheduled for more “on-call” shifts than guaranteed ones, but must be available at anytime. Abercrombie workers are sent home early, get last minute notice of their schedules, and then their schedules are still changed without their consent. Imagine what it’s like to try to find childcare and pay for it with this kind of schedule!
With your help, retail workers across the country can win work-life balance and enough hours to make a living. Please support our Sustainable Scheduling Campaign by sending a message to the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch demanding guaranteed hours for part-time workers and an end to abusive “on-call” shifts. Abercrombie, schedule your workers!
(If you’re in New York City, come rally with Bintou on Wednesday October 17th at 11am on the corner of 5th Avenue & 56th street as retail workers and allies demand Sustainable Scheduling! RSVP here.)