For years, the Republicans, Arnold and their Chamber of Commerce overlords, have been talking about “flexibility” in scheduling. That’s pretty much code for taking away the rights of workers.
Well, today the Senate Labor Committee voted, along party lines, to kill Sen. Benoit’s SB 187. Basically this would have changed the rules for the authorization of alternative schedules from the traditional 8-hour day, 40 hour week schedule. Currently, 2/3 of a work unit must agree to any change. SB 187 allows the employer to strike the deal with just one employee.
The Chamber of Commerce just loves this bill as they say they just want the ability for employers to juggle schedules. At the surface, that looks fairly innocuous. However, the problem is negotiating power, as it usually is. Under the current 2/3 rule, employers must work with the group, thus employees have the advantages that collective bargaining brings. However, if one employee can agree to an alternative schedule, the employer once again has far more leverage.
Look, in the new economy, perhaps 4 day work weeks might make a lot more sense. But we shouldn’t allow one employee to be pressured by his or her employee to be forced into it. Together with his or her work unit, that decision can be made as a group, as the decision will have impacts upon the entire group.
None of these issues are a problem, if the employer has a good working relationship with their employees. It won’t be a problem for an emplyer with good labor relations to get approval for an alternative schedule. But where that is not the case, where relations are tense, the protection of the work unit is invaluable.