Part-Time Employees: The Plight of the Mistreated

To the Editor:

Re “Part-Time Work Has a New, Predatory Logic,” by Adelle Waldman (Opinion guest essay, Feb. 20):

This essay resonated with me. After retiring from academia and relocating to Maine, I took a part-time seasonal position at one of Maine’s iconic retailers. The seasonal employees comprised two distinct groups.

Many, like me, were retirees whose employment was a diversion, perhaps even recreational. A way to get out of the house — and out of a significant other’s way a few days a week. The other group was consistent with the employees described in Ms. Waldman’s essay: people who needed the income and who juggled more than one part-time job, always desperate for more hours. After getting to know them, I sometimes felt guilty taking any hours for myself.

We were assigned shifts through a smartphone app. The system scheduled in two-week blocks. We could make plans only two weeks into the future unless we had used the software to list ourselves as unavailable for any upcoming day. For my group that meant no social plans beyond two weeks. For the other group, their income hung on that two-week window.

In retail environments, the seasonal, part-time sales representatives are the public face of the company. It is in employers’ self-interest to understand that and create a more supportive workplace.

I did the work for only two seasons, and then reminded myself why I’d retired in the first place. My colleagues who need the job don’t have that option.

Andrew J. Grant
Scarborough, Maine

To the Editor:

In our quest for efficiency and profitability, millions of part-time workers have become trapped in a cycle of low-quality jobs.

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