Isabel

Retail Worker

A recent high school graduate, Isabel loves listening to music and spending time with her family. Both Isabel and her parents work long hours — her dad as a plumber, her mom in a hotel, and Isabel as a part-time employee at a fashionable clothing store in Downtown LA. Part of Isabel’s paycheck helps support her family, contributing to their monthly rent. However, juggling her unpredictable work schedule with her attempts to continue her education has been a struggle. On top of that, Isabel often looks after her 10-year-old sister and 5-year-old brother while her parents are at work. Managing all this became too much, so she recently had to leave Glendale Community College.

Isabel’s work schedule is supposed to be posted at the store two weeks in advance, but her managers often change people’s hours with little notice. The amount she works each week varies quite a bit, some weeks 25 hours, and some weeks as little as 15. If she’s not assigned enough hours, that means trouble paying her phone bill and helping out her family.

She is also sometimes scheduled for what retail workers call a ‘clopening.’ This means she works the closing shift until 11 PM, and has to come back to work less than 7 hours later to stock the store before it opens. When working these shifts, Isabel is lucky if she can catch 4 or 5 hours of sleep, let alone study for school.

When her work hours change at the last minute it leaves Isabel and her family scrambling to find childcare for the younger kids. She remembers a day when her manager told her to come in on an evening that she was supposed to have off of work: “The manager she told me, ‘We just revised the schedule.’ I was already stressed, and that day my mom called out from work because we didn’t find anyone to take care of my brother and sister. I don’t want anyone to talk to when it happens, I get super moody.”