Working Anything But 9 to 5

Low-Income Parents Struggle to
Manage Child Care and Afford Housing

Working Anything But 9 to 5In its August 13, 2014, “Working Anything But 9 to 5,” the New York Times exposed the precarious work-life balance of low-income families at the mercy of “scheduling technology leaves low-income parents with hours of chaos.”

Without stable and fixed work schedules, single parents struggle to piece together childcare for their children, budget for groceries and transportation and work towards goals such as continuing their education.

The article profiles Janette Navarro, a single mother living in San Diego who earns $9/hour working part-time for Starbucks. Although at the end of the story, Navaro learns that she will be given a 40 hour work week with more regular hours, leading up to that, she lives on the brink of worrying about losing her childcare, causing tension with family she often calls on to help her in a “pinch”, and the lack of stability for her and her little boy.

“You’re waiting on your job to control your life,” she (Navarro) said, with the scheduling software used by her employer dictating everything from “how much sleep Gavin will get to what groceries I’ll be able to buy this month.”

As a follow up, The Times reported on August 14, 2014 that “Starbucks to Revise Policies to End Irregular Schedules.”

Quoting from the article, Cliff Burrows of Starbucks “specified that all work hours must be posted at least one week in advance, a policy that has been only loosely followed in the past. Baristas with more than an hour’s commute will be given the option to transfer to more convenient locations, he wrote, adding that scheduling software will be revised to allow more input from managers.

The changes came in response to an article on Wednesday in The New York Times about a single mother struggling to keep up with erratic hours set by automated software.”

A more stable work schedule could make the difference for Jannette Navarro and the many, many low-income working parents like her across the country.

“Jannette Navarro, the San Diego barista whose scheduling troubles were chronicled in the Times article, was still trying to stay afloat Thursday, looking for a permanent place for her and her 4-year-old son, Gavin, to live. She said a more stable schedule and paycheck would allow her to plan how much she could afford to spend on a new home, re-establish a routine for her son, and maybe return to community college.”

‘I want to surprise everyone,’ she said, ‘because no one is expecting anything of me.’”

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