Retail Worker

Curiel aspires to make his family proud with a successful career as an artist. His roots are important to him, and his art focuses on his immigrant, working class background. To make ends meet between art projects, Curiel works part-time at a fast fashion store in Downtown LA. When he started his retail job, he hoped it would offer him income security, but quickly learned that his work hours were susceptible to frequent changes.

Curiel has seen his employer ignore crucial policies, such as when employee schedules are supposed to be posted. “Sometimes they’ll post it two weeks in advance, sometimes one week, sometimes one day,” he says. While he is eligible to work 30 hours a week as a part-time sales associate, some weeks he’s scheduled for just 15. Even after the schedule is posted, he and his coworkers’ hours can be cut without warning, not even a phone call or an email. When you rely on a part-time job for income, having your hours cut in half unexpectedly is a huge economic blow.

Curiel also works for Postmates on the side to make ends meet, but last-minute cuts to his hours at his retail job mean uncertainty about whether her can cover his bills. Medical care is something he seldom has time — or money — for, and he has had to postpone appointments because he couldn’t afford copays. Anxiety permeates other aspects of his life, affecting his family as well. His father recently suffered from a heart attack, and Curiel doesn’t know if his employers will suddenly schedule him to work during his father’s surgery. “If I am scheduled to work during that time I am going to have to come in,” he says,” because I really do need those hours.”

For Curiel, a reliable schedule is a basic building block for a stable life. He believes that fair and reliable scheduling needs to be a common practice for all employers. He now educates his co-workers about their rights as employees, and pushes back against the unfair scheduling practices in his workplace.