Sign on to the Retail Workers' Bill of Rights
Why do we need a Retail Workers' Bill of Rights?
"I was a cashier at one of the Marsh stores that closed. I transferred to another Marsh which is a farther drive for me. There was another store a little closer to my home but my manager convinced me to stay so I decided against transferring there. I was also told that I would be getting paid almost $9.00 per hour to be a cashier at the farther out store, yet my pay still hasn’t been moved from minimum wage. I’ve asked on more than one occasion why my pay hasn’t increased and no one, not even my manager, can give me an answer. I’ve experienced car troubles so it’s become an issue to get to work on time. With road construction and extra traffic or having to wait for a ride, I’ve been late to work on a few occasions. This resulted in me getting reprimanded by my manager. My managers have been made aware of my situation and still I get reprimanded.
Like most of us that work in retail, I work EVERY holiday without holiday pay or any kind of premium pay. I’m a college student and while I taking classes I was working 28 hours per week. For some reason, now that school is out, I’m only receiving 15 hours per week. There are only a handful of full-time employees, only 1 full time person in each department. I just want to scream: "IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!"
Anonymous worker at Marsh in Indianapolis, IN
"I can accurately describe my experience working in retail in two words: life changing. I've worked in a thrift store, a discount store and a grocery store. I've encountered problems with each.
During my work at a thrift store I was physically reprimanded by a manager. While working at a discount store, I was promised promotions if I could "just wait a little longer". Even working at a grocery store has been tough at times. I've dealt with being coded incorrectly, and therefore did not receive the correct pay rate. I have had numerous issues with scheduling. Being unable to take time off from work to care for a sick family member led that person having to relocate.
I believe that if the Retail Workers Bill of Rights is effectively put into action that a lot of what goes on in retail can be improved upon. Being able to take time off for family, without threat of termination, would bring a better work-life balance. A living wage would open up greater opportunities to employees, such as perusing higher education. If workers were guaranteed a safer work environment, they would not have to work in constant fear of what could happen if they became sick or injured.
I believe that the Workers Bill of Rights would foster an environment that would bring better, happier employees into the retail job market."
A retail worker from Indianapolis, Indiana
"I have worked in the retail industry periodically for over 20 years as a part-time associate. It was not until 2007 when I retired from my fulltime position that I became aware of the needs of my fellow associates. It was difficult for me to understand the reasoning for the way retail employees are treated.My experience was having my hours cut for no reason. No one could give me a reason why they choose to cut my hours without my consent when I have been a forty hour a week employee for over 5 years. Not only did they do it one week but 2 weeks in a row and I was at work when the schedules were made.I support the retail worker bill of rights because it will reshape the retail industry and help to meet the needs of the employee and not the employer."
Works retail in Indianapolis, Indiana
"Reese Wholesale is the largest roofing and siding supplier in Indiana with outlets located throughout the state. I was employed as a Sales Associate in Feb 1999 and worked up to be the Supervisor of the siding department.
Although it is a family owned business and not union organized, Reese offered yearly pay raises, a 401K program that the company paid half into your fund and insurance that covered dental, eye and health. I felt secure in my position and supported the direction the owner was moving the company. In September 2008 several employees were called to the conference room and were informed we were being terminated because it was needed to downsize. All of our discharge papers, final checks and "Thank You" notes were already prepared for us to sign.
Needless to say it was a big surprise to me. There were no rumors of downsizing or layoffs. I lost my insurance, a regular paycheck and nearly lost my home. I do believe that if the employees had a union presence we would not have been treated in such a disrespectful manner."
After a private equity firm purchased a family owned grocery chain in Indiana, one worker had this to say about their future: ''Company only cares about the bottom dollar. No interest in employees careers or attracting good employees.''
While the retail sector—an important employer of women and minorities—continues to add jobs to the U.S. economy, many of these jobs are low-wage, part-time positions with erratic hours that are preventing retail workers from climbing up the economic ladder. Strengthening the middle class is essential to rebuilding our city and the U.S. economy as a whole, and it’s critically important that retail jobs in Indianapolis are good jobs with benefits so that workers in this established industry have a pathway to the middle class.
Indianapolis Retail Workers' Bill of Rights
WHEREAS many of our country’s largest employers are in the retail sector,
WHEREAS the retail sector is an important employer of women and minorities,
WHEREAS the retail sector in Indianapolis includes some of the most profitable corporations in the world,
WHEREAS decent retail jobs are critical to helping rebuild local economies,
WHEREAS the retail sector has continued to add jobs to the U.S. economy, but many of these positions are low-wage, part-time jobs with few benefits,
WHEREAS no one who works in retail should be forced to rely government assistance programs because they’re not paid enough or don’t have access to enough hours to make ends meet,
WHEREAS many retail workers in Indianapolis are struggling in low-wage, part-time jobs with unstable scheduling practices,
WHEREAS raising the minimum wage is not enough to lift retail workers in Indianapolis out of poverty when retail workers do not have access to full-time employment, stable work schedules, and other workplace protections,
WHEREAS retail workers in Indianapolis often face resistance from their employers when workers attempt to come together as a group to resolve workplace issues,
WHEREAS the city of Indianapolis has the potential to become a model city in the nation through improving the quality of jobs in the retail sector and creating new labor policies that can be replicated nationwide,
NOW, THEREFORE the Steering Committee of the LIFT RETAIL JOBS Campaign proclaims this INDIANAPOLIS RETAIL WORKERS BILL OF RIGHTS as a basic common standard of achievement for all retail workers in the city of Indianapolis, Ind., to the end that all stakeholders including but not limited to large retail employers, small businesses, elected officials, clergy, labor, thought leaders, consumers, community and civil rights groups, keeping this Indianapolis Retail Workers Bill of Rights in mind, shall promote and respect these rights, and secure their effective recognition and observance, both in the course of their operations and throughout the city of Indianapolis.
Every retail worker who wants to work full-time should have access to full-time hours.
All retail workers should have stable schedules posted weeks in advance, so scheduled hours do not hamper their ability to juggle life’s demands, such as child care, school, a second job or medical needs, and prevent them from climbing the economic ladder.
Every retail worker, regardless of the number of hours worked, should have access to health care benefits and sick leave.
No retail worker should be denied the protection afforded to other retail workers because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Every retail worker, regardless of the employer, is entitled to job and benefit protections in the event of a corporate takeover.
Every retail worker should have access to affordable health care.
No retail worker shall be put in a position that does not guarantee workplace safety and other health protections.
No retail worker shall be coerced, intimidated or silenced because they exercise their right to freedom of association.
Every retail worker is entitled to join together with coworkers to address any work-related concerns without any interference from the employer.