Nearly six years ago, I left my native country of Ethiopia looking for opportunity and security. I found security, which I’m thankful for. But I believed that in America if you work hard you should be able to afford a roof over your head, and for many low-wage workers, that is just not guaranteed today.
I work two jobs at Logan Airport, in passenger services and as a breakfast cook. But I still must rely on taxpayers to get health care for my family. I am a father of two but I had to work hard this year to make sure my kids could celebrate the holidays and that we had food on our Christmas table.
I never thought I would be out in the streets protesting, but I can’t survive on the $11 per hour I make now. The Fight for $15 has shown that when working people join together, we can win real change.
Politicians across the country have the power to raise wages and help fix our economy so it works for everyone, not just big corporations. Elected leaders in California and New York did the right thing and passed the $15 wage. Now Massachusetts need to get on board.
Airports are a powerful symbol of what’s gone wrong for American workers and their jobs. Airport workers used to earn decent wages and many were part of a union, but today those airport jobs look like jobs at McDonald’s.
An estimated 19 million people to date have benefited from minimum wage increases because of the Fight for $15 movement. I am one of them: My wages rose to $11 a year ago when Massport required its contractors to implement — a year early — the state minimum wage increase to $11 that takes effect on Jan. 1.
But we can’t stop and we won’t stop fighting until all of us win $15 an hour and union rights. Here in Massachusetts, it’s time to raise the minimum wage to $15 so all workers can earn enough to get ahead.
Chelsea resident, wheelchair attendant and cook at Logan Airport
As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.