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Work Schedule Law Hopes to Cut Down on Businesses Torturing Their Employees

Bobby Brown struggles to make rent for an apartment he doesn't have the time to sleep in.

Bobby Brown struggles to make rent for an apartment he doesn't have the time to sleep in.

Tuesday night, 21-year-old Bobby Brown hopped three buses to flip burgers at a McDonald's two hours from his Crystal home. At the end of the shift, his boss handed him a paycheck for $14.

That was his pay for the last two weeks, the manager said.

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Brown knows he doesn't work enough. He wants more hours so he can make rent and support the mother of his child, but McDonald's schedules him for only a couple shifts a week.

He says he worked four shifts over the last two weeks, always for at least six hours. There's no way he only earned two hours' worth of pay. He said as much to his supervisor when he got the check, but now the two have to schedule a time to sit down and go over time sheets so he can prove he was duped.

"They're just doing me horrible up there and I'm tired of it," Brown says. "I know it's not the best job, but I want to prove to them that I like them and I like the job and I want to work. It's not getting through to them."

Randa Jama won't quit her shitty job because she doesn't want to leave work undone with her union.

Randa Jama won't quit her shitty job because she doesn't want to leave work undone with her union.

Brown hopes that Rep. Rena Moran's (DFL-St. Paul) fair scheduling legislation will make a difference in his life. The bill would force employers to give workers 21 days' notice of their work schedule, compensate workers if a shift is canceled within 24 hours, and give them a choice when it comes to working double shifts with fewer than 11 hours in between.

For Brown, that would mean after he pulls off his apron at 4 a.m. and waits around two hours for the buses to run, he could go home and get some shuteye before the next shift.

Andy Barno-Iversen of Linden Hills Co-op calls working late nights and early mornings "clopening." As a student at the University of Minnesota, he used to lock up the store, hop on his bike at 9:30 p.m. and then head out the door again at 4 a.m. to reopen. He'd work a full shift, and then he'd go to class.

His boss at Linden Hills eventually stopped making people "clopen," but by then Barno-Iversen had already failed out of a class. "There are really unnecessary consequences for these short-sighted solutions," he says. "You can eliminate that with a simple act of consideration and care."

Airport wheelchair pusher Randa Jama is still fighting Delta subcontractor AirServ to increase her hours and give her set schedule so she doesn't have to pay $100 a month for bus tickets that may go to waste.

Jama's schedule of four days a week dwindled to two in early October and has never bounced back. She brings in $300 a month, which she splits on transportation, rent, food and anything else her two children need. She has a third on the way.

Since her hours got cut, she's had to let the babysitter go. When the airport calls her out of the blue to work, sometimes she can't find anybody to watch the kids, so she can't.

"They call you whenever they want you. Some days people will go take three buses to the airport not knowing if they might work or not," Jama says. "We deserve respect."

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