Philadelphia Inquirer: The nationwide workers' fight against unpredictable hours has hit Philadelphia

Posted: FEBRUARY 14, 2018 — 5:48 AM EST BY Juliana Feliciano Reyes

Shaheim Wright wants to go back to school.

The Northeast High School graduate is considering zoology. Or maybe biology, so he could take veterinary medicine courses. Most of all, he wants to get a college degree so he can get a better job. Right now, he takes care of the animals at the PetSmart at Cottman and Bustleton Avenues.

But Wright, 19, says it doesn’t seem possible to go to back to school. In part, because his work schedule is so erratic.

“I can’t go and apply for college if I don’t know what days I can go to class,” Wright said, adding that he fears that if he were to call out for a shift, he’d get fired.

On a good week, he’ll get put on the schedule for 30 hours. Other weeks, he’ll get only 16 hours. It’s impossible for him to predict.

“I never know how much money is coming in,” said Wright, who earns $8.75 an hour.

Wright isn’t alone: according to a recent University of California-Berkeley study on Philadelphia’s service sector that surveyed nearly 700 workers, the average worker reported a 14-hour difference between the weeks they worked the most and the least.

It’s why Wright has joined a local campaign to push for city laws that will require employers to offer more consistent hours. He was one of about 40 workers and organizers who marched to City Hall just as the work day ended Tuesday to start the campaign, part of a nationwide movement that has won legislation in San Francisco, Seattle, and New York.

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