A Letter To The Editor: Fair Workweek Law Essential to Encouraging Higher Education

Published 10:02 am EDT, Wednesday, April 4, 2018

To the Editor:

Coming from a family without the financial resources to afford me the luxury of attending college without working, I worked at a local grocery store part time while attending school full time. While I wanted to focus on academics as much as I could, there were several times when having an unpredictable schedule at work threatened to derail my education.

Unfair on-call scheduling practices meant that I was often scheduled to work shifts that interfered with classes. Because I was not represented by a union, and lacked the protection provided by a state law to ensure fair scheduling, I was forced to miss class on several occasions. It was either that or risk losing the job I needed to get by.

Because I needed the money from the job for basic necessities such as food and rent, I was forced to work the shift instead of attending class. While it is easy to say that young people just need to work hard to get ahead, the fact is that many companies are in no rush to help their low-wage workers achieve their dreams.

Despite these pains, in many ways, I was lucky. Several of my coworkers were not able to finish their schooling at all because of the demands of balancing on-call work hours and prescheduled classes. Our employer simply demanded too much of their time and attention, forcing them to continue working for poverty wages with few options to escape.

Predictable scheduling would have helped me to finish my degree earlier and would have helped several of my coworkers finish school and achieve their own dreams.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I urge our legislators to pass a Fair Workweek bill this year, so that no more students are caught in this trap.

Eric Morgenson, Middletown