Exposing Injustice at Walmart, Victory for NY Workers, & More!

A Better Balance
Headlines from the Frontlines—June 2017
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ABB Publishes Revealing Report on Walmart Practices
Last month, ABB, along with our partners, filed a national class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of pregnant workers discriminated against by Walmart. This month, we published a new report, Pointing Out: How Walmart Unlawfully Punishes Workers for Medical Absences. The report, which has received significant media attention following an exclusive feature in The New York Times, is based on a survey of more than 1,000 current and former Walmart workers around the country. Drawing on their stories, it reveals how Walmart’s absence control system often runs afoul of federal, state, and local laws that protect workers who need time off to care for their own health needs or those of a family member. Senator Bernie Sanders and other prominent figures and organizations have shared the report, generating comments from Walmart workers across the country attesting to Walmart’s unjust, and in many cases illegal, practice of punishing workers for medical absences. We will continue to fight for change at Walmart so that no worker is forced to put their job before their health or their family.
A Fair Work Week Is Coming to New York City
In May, New York City became the third city to enact a package of Fair Work Week bills to tackle abusive scheduling practices.  New York City’s law which covers a large variety of practices that hurt workers focuses on two of the most ubiquitous and low-paying industries in the city—fast food and retail. ABB was deeply involved in drafting and steering these bills to passage. For fast food workers, these bills will require two weeks notice of schedules, allow for rest time between the last shift of the day and the first shift of the following day and guarantee first refusal to current workers when extra hours are offered by an employer. For retail workers, we are especially proud of Intro. 1387, which prohibits on-call scheduling for retail employees. This ground-breaking law will ensure that no retail workers have to hold their time open for potential shifts, lining up childcare, transportation, and other necessary arrangements to make themselves available, without any guarantee that they will get called into work or even be paid for their time. This is another sterling example of local government pushing ahead on progressive change despite a federal government in retrograde.
ABB Presents at New York State Perinatal Association Conference
Last week, ABB attended the New York State Perinatal Association’s 2017 conference in Albany, “Birth Outcomes Matter: Merging Research, Policy & Practice.” ABB Co-President Dina Bakst presented a training geared toward physicians on New York State’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, explaining that pregnant workers in New York have clear legal protections to help them stay healthy and on the job. The training included guidance on how to write an effective doctor’s note and other practical tips for physicians whose patients are facing challenges at work related to pregnancy. Bakst also explained how New York State’s new paid family leave program will work, once benefits begin on January 1, 2018.
Know Your Rights

ABB’s Director of the Southern Office Elizabeth Gedmark trained members of the Tennessee Breastfeeding Coalition at their quarterly meeting about federal and state breastfeeding legal protections for workers. Attendees, mostly public health professionals and healthcare providers, traveled from across the state to participate and ask ABB questions about the laws. The presentation paid particular attention to enforcement.

ABB Speaks at Research Forum
On June 7th, ABB participated in From Persistence to Power: Facts, Truth, & Equity for Women, a convening in Washington D.C. organized by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Spelman College’s Women’s Research & Resource Center, and the Wellesley Centers for Women. Jared Make, ABB’s Senior Staff Attorney, moderated a panel that examined opportunities to achieve paid sick days and paid family and medical leave through research and public policy. Jared also delivered remarks on the progress of the paid leave movement throughout the country, the importance of ensuring that cities can continue to lead on paid leave, and the need for inclusive and realistic family definitions in paid leave laws.

Victory for Workers and Local Democracy in Minnesota

Last year, ABB worked successfully with advocates in Minnesota to help research, draft, and win paid sick and safe time laws in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. In an anti-democratic attempt to undermine the will of voters and their elected officials in both cities, state lawmakers passed a bill that would have invalidated these important measures by stripping all Minnesota localities of their ability to pass workplace standards laws—like increases to the minimum wage as well as sick time—to protect workers and promote economic justice. On May 30th, in a tremendous victory for workers, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the bill. This means that the Minneapolis and Saint Paul paid sick and safe time laws will take effect as planned. Our efforts along with other national partners to place op eds and obtain an editorial in the New York Times were important factors in the veto. But most of all, Governor Dayton’s veto is a victory for our partners and allies at TakeAction Minnesota who have worked so hard to make paid sick and safe time a reality in the Twin Cities.

Voices from the Clinic

“I was fired from my job, I was scared, I didn’t know what to do, it was unfair. ABB helped me and advised me and thanks to them I was able to get back on my feet. Thanks so much. Together we can succeed.”
— Jowell Soto, who was retaliated against by his employer for asserting his rights under New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act