City of Berkeley Right to Request Part Time Work Advisory Question, Measure Q (November 2014)

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A City of Berkeley Right to Request Part Time Work Advisory Question, Measure Q ballot question is on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of Berkeley in Alameda County, California.

If approved, this measure advises the Berkeley City Council to adopt an ordinance that would allow both private and public sector workers to request part-time work. It would also advise the Berkeley City Council to ask the state and federal governments to draft legislation to give employees a right to shorter work hours.[1]

The legislation would be based on the “Working Families Flexibility Act,” introduced in Congress in 2007 as Senate Bill S. 2419, and the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, adopted in San Francisco.[1]

Such legislation would be designed to require an employer to grant a request for more flexible or shorter work hours unless a legitimate business reason for denial of the request is presented in writing. Such reasons could include, undue hardship, such as high expense caused by the change, productivity loss, the requirement for retraining or hiring as a result, an adverse effect upon the ability to meet customer or client demands and the effect upon other employees.[2]

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:[1]

Shall the People of the City of Berkeley advise the City Council to adopt an ordinance based on proposed federal legislation and the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance giving employees in Berkeley the right to request to work part-time, and send letters to the state and federal elected officials, requesting the state and federal governments to give government employees the right to have shorter work hours, if doing so would not cause operational problems?[3]

Impartial analysis

The following impartial analysis of Measure Q was prepared by the office of the city attorney:[1]

The proposed measure, if adopted, would “advise” the Berkeley City Council that the voters request it to adopt an ordinance based on the “Working Families Flexibility Act”, introduced in Congress in 2007 as Senate Bill S. 2419, and the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance adopted in San Francisco, that would give public sector and private sector employees in the City of Berkeley the right to request to work part-time. The proposed measure would also advise the City Council that any such ordinance should apply to all employees, not just care givers, and be fine-tuned based on the needs of local employers, such as, for instance, by exempting small businesses.

The proposed measure would direct the City of Berkeley to send a letter to the Governor, Senate and Assembly of the State of California and the President, Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, requesting the state and federal governments to implement policies that would give government employees the right to request shorter work hours, and require the state and federal governments to grant such requests if doing so would not cause operational problems.

The proposed measure would direct the City of Berkeley to send a letter to the Governor, Senate and Assembly of the State of California and the President, Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, urging them to pass a law with the provisions of the “Working Families Flexibility Act”, introduced in Congress in 2007 as Senate Bill S. 2419.

This measure was placed on the ballot as the result of a petition signed by voters.[3]

—Zach Cowan, Berkeley City Attorney

Support

In an op-ed for The Daily Californian, Charles Siegel, author of the The Politics of Simple Living, wrote an article supporting Measure Q. His chief arguments included the importance of more flexible work hours to families and children and the long-term environmental benefits of a decrease in work hours. An excerpt of his article is below:[4]

A similar law has been successful in the United Kingdom for over a decade, and the overwhelming majority of requests are granted.

Now, this sort of law is moving to the United States.

[...]

The existing laws emphasize their benefits to families. The standard 40-hour work week was adopted in 1938, when families were expected to have stay-at-home mothers. Now, most American families with children do not have a stay-at-home caregiver, and 90 percent of these parents say they have trouble balancing work and family obligations. Today’s working families need more flexibility than they needed 75 years ago.

We are also emphasizing the environmental benefit. These laws give employees the option of downshifting economically. As we say in the shorter-work-time movement, they have the option of choosing “more time instead of more stuff.”

Common sense tells us that if people choose to work less and consume less, they will also pollute less.

Research confirms this fact. For example, a study named “Hours of Work and the Ecological Footprint of Nations” compared work time and ecological footprint internationally, corrected statistically for other variables and found that if a nation’s work time is 10 percent shorter, its ecological footprint is more than 10 percent smaller.

People with shorter work hours not only produce and consume less — they also consume in less environmentally destructive ways. For example, they have the time to cook for themselves instead of eating frozen food.[3]

—Charles Siegel The Politics of Simple Living[4]

See also

External links

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