July 27, 2015

Indianapolis City Council Advances Support for Retail Workers

Labor rights advocate Mary Kate Dugan at a rally Monday. - Ryan Delaney/WFYI

Labor rights advocate Mary Kate Dugan at a rally Monday.

Ryan Delaney/WFYI

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis city council committee Monday advanced a resolution supporting a retail workers bill of rights after Republican councilors blocked the resolution earlier this month.

Democratic councilors tried to throw ceremonial support behind the bill of rights at the full council session earlier in July, but Republicans opposing the measure sent it to committee instead.

That gave retail workers and labor advocates the chance to formally testify to councilors. Jessica Dixon works a retail job while going to school. She says it difficult to balance both.

"On Numerous occasions, I’ve had to leave school because I had such an erratic schedule and not a living wage so I had to choose between finishing school and supporting myself," she told councilors. "And if I could get a steady job and a living wage, I would be able to finish my schooling."

Labor advocates are calling for steadier scheduling and benefits for part-time workers such as insurance and paid time off.

Democratic councilor John Barth says retail workers are behind much of the city economic recovery "but they don’t always get the benefit that others get, especially when it comes to some stability as far as their employment is concerned and having stable hours."

The economic development committee passed the resolution 4-2, sending it back to the full council for its August meeting.

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