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Sen. Elizabeth Warren holds roundtable on bill that would add scheduling protections, 'on call' pay

Jul 20, 2015 / Media Coverage / masslive.com — Gintautas Dumcius

Supporters of a U.S. Senate bill aimed at providing and protecting flexible schedules for low-income workers say the legislation is also good for businesses.

Robert Everts, co-president of Equal Exchange coffee co-op, said allowing flexible schedules builds worker loyalty.

"We acknowledge the basic reality that workers have lives outside of work," he said while standing outside an Equal Exchange café, located across the street from TD Garden.

Everts, whose company employs 150 people nationwide, was joined on Monday by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is pushing the legislation that calls for compensating an employee for being "on call" and protecting employees from being fired after asking for a schedule change.

"It comes down to knowing what to expect, week to week, so they can live their lives," said Jeff Goldhaber, a Mansfield resident who works as dairy department head at a Stop & Shop. He is also an organizer with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

Unions are backing the bill, as well as a similar version at the State House sponsored by state Rep. Sean Garballey, D-Arlington. Garballey and the head of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Steve Tolman, were on hand for a Monday roundtable with Warren, Everts and six workers inside the café.

Opponents of the bill, though, say the legislation is unnecessary.

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For her part, Warren said support for her bill is growing. Last year, the legislation had six co-sponsors in total. This year, it has 18 co-sponsors in the Senate and 60 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

What the bill proposes is "modest," according to Warren.

"We don't get what we don't fight for," she said.

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