#FightFor15

By Brittany Barnes
Staff Writer

On Nov. 10, fast-food employees, childcare attendants, airport staff, home care workers and other underpaid individuals across a hundred cities in America walked out of their establishments.

The walkouts, which occurred in major cities such as Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh and Detroit, kicked off the #FightFor15 campaign.

The non-profit organization and advocacy group #FightFor15 calls for a raise in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. It also fights to provide fast-food workers with union rights.

According to USA Today, the walkouts marked the workers’ largest show of force since they launched a series of rallies three years ago.

The reason this is happening now is because the low-paid workers want minimum wage raises to be a major part of the 2016 presidential debate.

There are some people who do not believe that the minimum wage should be raised to $15, especially for fast-food workers. The truth is, it is impossible to live off the nation’s so-called “living wage” of $7.25.

There are more adults employed in fast-food now than in the past when McDonald’s jobs were held mostly by high school students looking for some extra cash.

In reality, 29 is the average age of a fast-food worker, according to the National Employment Law Project.

More than 26 percent of fast-workers have children. Many fast-food workers are not only supporting themselves, they are supporting their families and a household. There is no city in the country in which a person can live off $7.25 an hour.

A full-time worker, categorized as working 40 hours per week, only brings home $290 each week, before taxes. I work on campus. They too follow the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Every two weeks $129.23 is deposited into my bank account.

Student workers are only allowed to work 10 hours per week, which is significantly less than the 20 hours per week minimum in the United States.  Let’s face it, there is no way I am managing to live off $258.46 per month.

Yes, my mother still helps me out and I do live on campus, but with the average cost of a single college textbooks being $200 and the addition of personal items, that is not enough.  I’m forced to not even think about emergency expenses or going out.

In 2013, NBC News published an article about a 25-year-old customer service worker, Crystal Dupont.

The article explained that Dupont had no health insurance, was behind on her car payments, had taken out payday loans to cover other monthly expenses and ate beans and oatmeal when her food budget got low.

“A person working full time for minimum wage would take home an annual salary of $15,080. That’s a shade higher than the poverty threshold for a household containing two adults, and about $8,000 less than the poverty line for a family of four,” according to NBC News.

“It’s by the grace of God that I am having ends meet,” pizza delivery man John White, 61, revealed to NBC News.

President Barack Obama has been urging Congress to raise minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, but nothing has changed.

“To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it,” implored Obama during his January State of the Union address.

I can’t expect Congress members who make $174,000 a year to understand the struggles and the challenges of a worker making $159,000 less than they do.

The biggest problem in this country is the unequal distribution of wealth.

The rich don’t care about us, therefore, Congress doesn’t care about us. The greed in America is troubling.

There is no reason that a person living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world should have to eat beans every night because they don’t have enough money for food.

A protester at one of the #FightFor15 rallies in Harlem held up a sign that reads, “The fabric of our society is torn apart by greed.”

It’s something to think about.

Email Brittany at:
bbarnes1@live.esu.edu

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