By Nicole Janik
It was 5 a.m. when my alarm screeched, jettisoning me into an upright position. In the darkness, a scrolling list of “To-Dos” was spiraling through my brain. My shift at Delta Sonic started at 6 a.m., followed by a midterm at 3:15 p.m. and a shift at my second job at 5:30 p.m. I sighed, exhausted.
The night before, my second shift had run late. Despite attempting to study, the text had blurred together and I had passed out on my desk somewhere in the black of 2 a.m.
I reached for my cellphone. Muscle memory dialed the number for me.
“Morning, Janik, how are you?”
“Need the morning off? I can bring someone else in.”
“Yes, please. Can I work tomorrow instead?”
“Give me a call tomorrow morning. Get some sleep.”
A laugh, a “thank you,” and a click.
This scenario occurred often with trivial variation during my college years. The scheduling flexibility that Delta Sonic offered was vital to the maintenance of my health, grades and finances. I upheld a 4.0 GPA, glided into graduate school with minimal debt and was able to pursue a professional career at Delta Sonic after graduation.
Now, this flexibility is about to disappear.
New regulations proposed by the New York State Department of Labor require employers to set schedules 14 days in advance, an impossibility for weather-dependent business models like Delta Sonic’s. Additionally, employers must compensate workers four hours of pay if their on-call shifts are canceled. If an employee is permitted to work on an unscheduled day, they would be entitled to two hours’ pay in addition to their earned wages.
The regulation was designed to assist heads-of-households whose child care needs require a predictable schedule. However, 70 percent of Delta Sonic’s impacted employees are under the age of 21 and fewer than two percent are heads-of-households. The proposed regulation will stifle the flexibility that has made Delta Sonic an employer of choice, allowing them to give 50,000 young adults their first job. Employing this demographic is vital to local communities as the training, scholarships and advancement opportunities that employees receive develop them into responsible, contributing adults.
Delta Sonic’s dedication to employees also motivates business decisions. When wind chills dropped into the negatives several weeks ago, Delta Sonic closed its wash tunnels to protect employees. If the regulation had been in place, Delta Sonic would have been penalized and forced to pay 1,000 employees four hours of wages to stay home for two days. Compensating 8,000 labor hours for no work rendered is unsustainable for any business.
Without changes, Delta Sonic will be forced to do what other car washes have already done – eliminate labor-intensive services like hand-drying vehicles and cleaning interiors. Leaders in Albany need to realize that a one-size-fits-all regulation does not always work.
Nicole Janik is the manager of communications for Delta Sonic Car Wash.