Many of the discussions of the on-demand economy (or “gig economy”) focus on its intermittent nature – what I’ve called “continuous partial employment” – without recognizing how the fundamental landscape of low wage workers in America (think retail clerks, baristas, fast food workers) have come to embody that phrase. On demand workers may not have a guarantee of full time employment, but at least they are in control of their own schedules! Typical low wage work today is scheduled by algorithm, in short shifts, often on-call without pay and with little or no ability for workers to modify shifts to meet special needs, like a sick child, a court date, or other essential activities, and with workers limited to 29 hours a week (to avoid triggering health benefits). Carrie’s work at the Fair Workweek Initiative addresses all these issues, and provides essential context for any decision of how labor law, government policy, and workplace practices need to change in the future.
Whether just scraping by hour-by-hour or exhausted from a workweek that never ends, working Americans are becoming a 24/7 workforce even as they face mounting economic uncertainty.
Today a majority of Americans are paid by the hour—that’s 75 million people or three in five Americans. With little to no input in our schedules and very few workplace protections, today’s work schedules vary wildly week-to-week for some and demand 24/7 availability for most of us. Too many people are either working too few hours to make ends meet or are saddled with workweeks that never end. These worrisome work scheduling trends have a dramatic impact on working families, resulting in unstable incomes and uncertainty that makes it difficult to care for family members, attend and study for college classes, or work a second job. Whether just scraping by hour-by-hour or hardly getting a good night’s sleep, America’s scheduling crisis is at a breaking point. That’s why working people across America are calling for a fair workweek because we all deserve a work schedule we can count on and more control over our time.
Carrie Gleason directs the Fair Workweek Initiative – a collaborative effort anchored by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), that works with diverse stakeholders across the country to achieve an equitable workweek for today’s workforce through industry change and policy solutions. She provides analysis of part-time employment, scheduling trends and the retail sector for national policymakers and media outlets, which have included NPR and the New York Times.
Carrie brings over ten years of experience in work on labor issues in the retail sector. She co-founded the Retail Action Project (RAP), an organization of retail workers dedicated to improving opportunities and standards in the retail industry. As RAP’s executive director from 2010-2014, Carrie oversaw the organization’s base-building and strategic campaigns, research, and empowering direct services to grow an industry voice for New York City retail workers. RAP emerged from an innovative community-labor partnership with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU/UFCW) and the Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) that helped thousands of retail workers in lower Manhattan successfully fight wage theft and discrimination, winning millions in unpaid wages.
Carrie has also led several winning unionization campaigns for the RWDSU and the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council (UNITE-HERE). She is a Ford Public Voices fellow, a member of the Presidential Council of Cornell Women, and has served on the North Star Fund Community Funding Committee. Carrie was a 2009-2010 Charles H. Revson Fellow, a Program on the Future of New York City at Columbia University, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner and son.
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