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National Retail Justice Alliance and Other Stakeholders Address Economic Struggles of Part-Time Workers in Hearing with Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Oakland, Calif. – The National Retail Justice Alliance, in partnership with the UFCW, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Women’s Economic Agenda Project, and the Alameda Labor Council, hosted a hearing today in Oakland with Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) to highlight the economic plight of part-time workers in retail and other service industries.  The hearing also underscored the need for the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act of 2013 (H.R. 675), which would extend protections to part-time workers in the areas of employer-provided health insurance, family and medical leave, and pension plans.

The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights builds upon the progress of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and ensures that part-time workers (defined as working less than 30 hours a week) and their families have access to critical workplace benefits.  The ACA penalizes employers who fail to provide health insurance to full-time workers, but includes no such penalties for employers who deny health coverage to part-time workers.

“Millions of Americans work in the retail and service industries, and many of those jobs are part-time with lower pay than their full-time colleagues, and few benefits,” said Dr. Steven Pitts, a labor policy specialist at the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California-Berkeley and a member of the National Retail Justice Alliance. “As our nation’s economy relies more and more on part-time, low-wage work, policies like the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights are needed to address the widening gap of those working without a safety net for retirement, health care, and family leave.”

In addition to Lee and Pitts, state and local leaders, economic experts and part-time workers also spoke at the hearing which took place at the Allen Temple Baptist Church.

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The National Retail Justice Alliance is dedicated to raising the living and working standards of retail workers in the United States.  By working in collaboration with a broad base of opinion leaders, organizations and communities, the National Retail Justice Alliance builds support for workers in the retail industry through advocacy, education and research to promote sustainable jobs, living wages, affordable health care and fair public policies.  For more information, visit www.retailjusticealliance.org.

Political and Social Justice Activists Unite to Fight for Living Wages and Decent Benefits for Retail Workers

Washington, D.C. – A coalition of political and social justice activists from around the country have united to launch the National Retail Justice Alliance to highlight the social and economic plight of retail workers across the country.  The new alliance was formed following the first-ever strikes by Walmart workers across the country last year, and is dedicated to raising the living and working standards of retail workers in the United States.

The retail sector is the largest industry by employment in the United States, and is projected to add almost 1.8 million jobs between 2010 and 2020—more than any other industry except construction. Although the retail sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country, many retail workers are struggling to survive in low-wage jobs with inconsistent hours and few benefits.

“The retail sector is an important employer of minorities and women, and too many of these workers are living below the poverty line,” said Bill Fletcher, chair of the National Retail Justice Alliance and director of field service and education at the American Federation of Government Employees. “It’s clear that leaders in the retail industry need to step up to the plate and ensure that all retail jobs have decent wages and benefits that can support a family, and Walmart—the world’s largest retailer—is a good place to start.  Unfortunately, the retail giant’s drive to put profits ahead of its workers has influenced other retailers to do the same, and that’s why this alliance was formed.”

In addition to Fletcher, the National Retail Justice Alliance Steering Committee includes Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Jim Hightower, and representatives from the Economic Policy Institute, Color of Change, Jobs with Justice, Demos and other progressive leaders and organizations.

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The National Retail Justice Alliance is dedicated to raising the living and working standards of retail workers in the United States.  By working in collaboration with a broad base of opinion leaders, organizations and communities, the National Retail Justice Alliance builds support for workers in the retail industry through advocacy, education and research to promote sustainable jobs, living wages, affordable health care and fair public policies.