Seattle retailers seek relief from secure scheduling requirements

Apr 3, 2020
Written by John Engber, Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle Director
Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, retailers have faced an enormous array of challenges. For those not deemed “essential businesses,” the crisis means that they have had to close their doors to customers until at least May 4. In Seattle, break-ins have led some of those businesses to board up their windows.
For retailers who are attempting to stay fully operational, the coronavirus crisis presents a different set of challenges. Some of their workers have had to cut back their hours to care for school-age children, while others have stayed home due to illness. Retailers have done their best to meet the needs of their workers while keeping their shelves stocked with goods that their customers desperately need.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has recognized the critical role that retailers play in this crisis, as well as the difficulties they face in keeping their stores open and staffed. For the past two weeks, the Mayor’s office has searched for ways that the City could help retailers continue to serve the public. Her staff has discussed potential short-term changes to the City’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance (“SSO”) with both retailers and organized labor.
Retailers would welcome a short-term relaxation of the SSO, while labor is focused on ensuring that retail workers do not lose their protections, including penalty pay for working shifts that were not on the 2-week advance schedule. We hope that a win-win solution can be found to remove some of the SSO’s scheduling burdens that could be barriers to giving workers the extra shifts they seek.