Part-time blues

To the Editor:
In follow-up to the Banner article of Jan. 4, 2014, I would like to speak out on behalf of the many people in the Bennington region and throughout Vermont who work part-time.

Most part-time work in 2014 is not a choice. Indeed, it is involuntary in nature, meaning that workers are forced to work part-time because there aren't enough full-time jobs available.

The irony of involuntary part-time employment is that most of it is concentrated in low-wage sectors such as the food service industry, health care support services, and entry level manufacturing. Part-time employment rarely includes benefits such as health insurance and paid sick leave. Part-time workers receive lower rates of pay, less training, and fewer opportunities for advancement. A recent policy study from the University of New Hampshire showed that involuntary part-time employment is a key factor in poverty. In 2012, one in four involuntary part-time workers lived in poverty, whereas just one in 20 full-time workers lived in poverty.

I was talking to a Bennington family today that is living the horror of involuntary part-time employment. The husband has worked full-time for 16 years for a local business that was recently bought out. In the first week of the new management, his hours were cut from 40 to 35. The next week, he was told that he would be working 30 hours per week. This resulted in the loss of eligibility for health insurance, sick days, and paid vacation time. One month after his company was bought out, his wife's job was cut from 30 hours per week to 10 hours per week. She is currently looking for another part-time job in the fast food industry to help make ends meet. Her goal is not to "make a little extra money for the family" but to help keep a roof over the heads of herself, her husband, and their teenage son.

There are a lot of hard working people out there who would jump at the opportunity to work full-time.

Sue Andrews
Tel 802 442 5719


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