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Activists Stage Workers Rights Rally in H&M Store at Paseo Colorado in Pasadena

Published on Monday, October 28, 2019 | 6:32 pm

[Updated] Activists held a rally outside the Pasadena H&M store Monday evening focused on improving the lot of retail workers throughout the state of California.

The Monday afternoon action was organized by the national nonprofit, United for Respect, which is focused on making life more bearable for retail workers nationwide.

The demonstration is part of a campaign targeting H&M. The short-term goal is the reinstatement of Nick Gallant, who was present at the Pasadena rally.

Gallant was instrumental in establishing a “fair workweek” city ordinance in Emeryville, Calif.

An employee at H&M, Gallant said he was unlawfully fired after teaching his coworkers the ins-and-out of the new city law vis-a-vis their workplace experience at H&M.

An H&M Media Relations Spokesperson said, “H&M complies with the law in all respects.  We have worked very hard to comply with the local predictive scheduling laws in California and believe that we abided by those laws.  H&M strives to maintain a safe and secure workplace and complies with all the requirements of the workplace safety regulations as the health and wellbeing of our employees is our primary concern.”

The long-term goal, said campaign organizer, Mauricio Escobar, is getting H&M to implement a fair workweek policy at all its outlets in the state, “and in that way set the benchmark for every retailer in California.”

According to Escobar, the fair workweek concept was hatched at the Center for Popular Democracy, which advocates for workers rights, immigrants right, racial and economic justice.

The entire state of Oregon is governed by one, as are San Francisco and other large cities across the country, he said. Los Angeles has such an ordinance in the works as well.

Escobar painted a verbal portrait of the modern-day retail workers’ life as something like a yo-yo on a string, subjected to whimsical schedule changes, shifts bunched too close together, and spur-of-the-moment cancellations.

While differing in their local particulars, a fair workweek municipal ordinance or company policy typically sets an hourly minimum of time off between shifts so a worker can get sufficient rest, and establishes compensation for the sudden cancellation of a shift.

“It’s about understanding that workers are family members and that we need a better system for managing them and their health,” said Escobar.

United for Respect is also involved in a drive at Walmart, where the goal is worker representation in the corporate structure.

While it does form campaign coalitions with unions, it is not a union itself, rather a workers’ rights organization that informs and organizes around improving workplace and home life for working Americans.

“Where corporations are taking advantage of workers, we let them know about their rights,” explained Escobar.

Pasadena’s H&M is located in the Paseo Colorado shopping center at 300 East Colorado Boulevard.

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