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Employment and Jobs

Unstable Schedules: Unwrapping the Challenges and Solutions for Service Workers


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About this event

While the holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for many across the United States, it brings uncertainty and stress for workers facing unpredictable schedules. Workers in the service sector in particular are often on call and can have their schedules changed with very little notice. Research by The Shift Project, for example, shows that in fall 2021, a staggering 64% of workers in the service sector received less than two weeks’ notice of their schedule. Unpredictable and unstable schedules are associated with economic, food, and housing insecurity; various health issues; and, for working parents, adverse effects on childrens’ well-being and education. 

In recent years, some state and local governments — including Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, and Chicago, and the state of Oregon — have enacted fair workweek laws that provide workers with more stable and predictable scheduling. And some employers have changed their scheduling practices as well, recognizing that unstable schedules can affect business performance and employee turnover. Despite this scattershot progress, however, the status quo of unpredictable scheduling remains largely the same. 

Join the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, from 2:00 to 3:15 p.m. Eastern time, for “Unstable Schedules: Unwrapping the Challenges and Solutions for Service Workers.” An expert panel will discuss the latest research on the experiences of workers grappling with schedule instability, how new technology is helping businesses adopt worker-friendly scheduling practices, what we are learning from states and cities with fair workweek laws, and other opportunities and strategies for change.


Terrysa Guerra

Co-Executive Director,
United for Respect

Terrysa Guerra was raised by her grandparents in Los Fresnos, Texas, a farming community near the US/Mexico border. Terrysa saw firsthand the difference a union job made for her family when she saw her mother and coworkers take collective action through their union advocating for better pay, working conditions and fighting privatization of their jobs. She learned by example from her grandparents the importance of voting and participating in the political process when they took her to vote for the first time when she was 18. As a first generation college student, Terrysa was recruited into a Democratic congressional campaign soon after graduating from Texas A&M University. She went on to work for the national and Texas state Democratic parties, managed the successful campaigns of two state senators and a state representative in Texas, and then as deputy campaign manager for the gubernatorial bid of Wendy Davis. Profiles of Terrysa ran in The New York Times and Marie Claire.

After the 2016 election, Terrysa focused on combining her labor roots with her political skills at the Make It Work Campaign organizing around issues of paid leave, childcare and equal pay, and then managed the fair workweek campaign for retail workers at Center for Popular Democracy. In 2018, she joined United for Respect (UFR) where she built the organization’s policy and political programs that led to passing into law the new national labor standard of guaranteed severance pay, winning stable working hours for over 2 million families, helping win $20 million in a hardship fund for 30,000 Toys R Us workers, and building UFR’s efforts to reach low wage workers and activate them to vote in elections.


Silvija Martincevic

CEO of Deputy

Silvija Martincevic is the CEO of Deputy, a leading global software platform for managing hourly workers. Deputy is on a mission to improve the world of hourly work for businesses and workers alike. Deputy elevates workplace engagement, happiness, and productivity for workers, while helping businesses in effectively engaging and retaining employees, and ensuring labor law compliance within their workforce. More than 330,000 workplaces and 1.4 million shift workers use Deputy daily in over 100 countries. Silvija joined Deputy because she is passionate about empowering shift workers – the very community that raised her. Her ultimate mission in life is to utilize technology for positive change and to make a significant impact on marginalized communities. She believes Deputy has the right technology, the right team, and the right culture to capture this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a significant imprint on the future of work, and a massive impact on the lives of the world’s 2.7 billion shift workers.

Before Deputy, Silvija served as Chief Commercial Officer at Affirm Inc., where she grew the company’s merchant and partner portfolio from approximately 5,000 to more than 200,000 retailers and brands representing nearly 60% of U.S. e-commerce. Prior to Affirm, Silvija led Groupon’s international business across Europe, Asia, and Australia as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Silvija also spent 10 years in the investment management industry, as a founder and investor in socially-responsible, female and minority-owned businesses. She currently sits on the boards of Lemonade and


Daniel Schneider

Co-Executive Director of the Shift Project

Daniel Schneider is the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and Professor of Sociology. Professor Schneider’s research focuses on precarious work, social demography, and inequality. As co-director of the Shift Project, he has co-led the creation of a novel dataset tracking the working experiences of service-sector workers.

His work examines racial/ethnic and gender inequalities in job quality, the effects of precarious work on the economic security and wellbeing of workers and their families, and the effects of labor standards on working conditions. Professor Schneider holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree  from Brown University. Prior to joining HKS, he was a faculty member in the Sociology Department at the University of California, Berkeley.


headshot of Elizabeth Wagoner Elizabeth Wagoner

Deputy Commissioner – Office of Labor Policy & Standards

New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection

Elizabeth Wagoner is the deputy commissioner of the Office of Labor Policy & Standards of the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), which investigates and enforces NYC worker protections, including the paid safe and sick leave law, the fair workweek laws in fast food and retail, and app-based delivery workers’ rights. 

DCWP is a national leader in incorporating data analytics into enforcement of worker scheduling protections and has achieved several multimillion-dollar settlements with national fast food chains to compensate workers for violations. Elizabeth joined DCWP in 2019, serving as director of investigations and then as legal director. Prior to joining DCWP, she held litigation roles focused on low-wage workers’ rights at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, the Labor Bureau of the New York State Office of the Attorney General, Outten & Golden LLP, and Make the Road New York.

Shalene Gupta

Writer and Journalist

Shalene Gupta is a writer and journalist. She’s the author of “The Cycle: Confronting the Pain of Periods and PMDD” and co-author of “The Power of Trust.” She’s a frequent contributor at Fast Company, where she writes about employment practices and work life. Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic, ESPN, Fortune, and Harvard Business Review, where her article about better layoffs was recognized as a top 10 read. She is a Fulbright scholar and a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism and Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Opportunity in America

Opportunity in America, an event series hosted by the Economic Opportunities Program, considers the changing landscape of economic opportunity in the US and implications for individuals, families, and communities across the country. The series highlights the ways in which issues of race, gender, and place exacerbate our economic divides, and ideas and innovations with potential to address these challenges and broaden access to quality opportunity.

We are grateful to Prudential Financial, Walmart, the Surdna Foundation, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Bloomberg, and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth for their support of this series.

Learn More

The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.

Event information
Wed Nov 15, 2023
2:00pm - 3:15pm EDT