The New York Times reported recently about the difficulties young parents have with work schedules generated by computers--apparently a common means of scheduling used by fast-food and other businesses. Jody Kantor wrote:
"In a typical last-minute scramble, Jannette Navarro, a 22-year-old Starbucks barista and single mother, scraped together a plan for surviving the month of July without setting off family or financial disaster.
"In contrast to the joyless work she had done at a Dollar Tree store and a KFC franchise, the $9-an-hour Starbucks job gave Ms. Navarro, the daughter of a drug addict and an absentee father, the hope of forward motion. She had been hired because she showed up so many times, cheerful and persistent, asking for work, and she had a way of flicking away setbacks — such as a missed bus on her three-hour commute — with the phrase, “I’m over it.”
"But Ms. Navarro’s fluctuating hours, combined with her limited resources, had also turned their lives into a chronic crisis over the clock. She rarely learned her schedule more than three days before the start of a workweek, plunging her into urgent logistical puzzles over who would watch the boy. Months after starting the job she moved out of her aunt’s home, in part because of mounting friction over the erratic schedule, which the aunt felt was also holding her family captive. Ms. Navarro’s degree was on indefinite pause because her shifting hours left her unable to commit to classes. She needed to work all she could, sometimes counting on dimes from the tip jar to make the bus fare home. If she dared ask for more stable hours, she feared, she would get fewer work hours over all."
“You’re waiting on your job to control your life,” she said, with the scheduling software used by her employer dictating everything from “how much sleep Gavin will get to what groceries I’ll be able to buy this month.”
Kantor, Jodi. "Working Anything but 9 to 5: Scheduling Technology Leaves Low-Income Parents With Hours of Chaos." New York Times, August 13, 2014, Morning ed., U.S. News sec. Accessed August 13, 2014.
Amazingly, the response from Starbucks was almost immediate! In about 24 hours, Starbucks not only changed Navarro's schedule, but announced a commitment to make substantial improvements in work schedules to accommodate their employees who had similar difficulties.
Amazingly, Starbucks annouced one day later that the company was making revisions on Thursday to the way the company schedules its 130,000 baristas, saying it wanted to improve “stability and consistency” in work hours week to week. Cliff Burrows, the group president in charge of American stores, sent an email to baristas across the country in which he told them that Starbucks intends to curb the much-loathed practice of “clopening,” or workers closing the store late at night and returning just a few hours later to reopen.
Kantor, Jodi. " Starbucks to Revise Policies to End Irregular Schedules for Its 130,000 Baristas" New York Times, August 23, 2014, Morning ed., U.S. News sec. Accessed August 25, 2014.
Interestingly, Kantor's article never meant to target Starbucks, but rather--as the story developed--it just happened that Navarro was brave enough to speak up and she happened to work for Starbucks.
Kantor, Jodi. "Times Article Changes a Starbucks Policy, Fast." New York Times, August 22, 2014, Morning ed., U.S. News sec. Accessed August 25, 2014.