A $15 an hour minimum wage is becoming a new standard for fair pay across the country, and it’s time for Massachusetts to step up and join the ranks of states that require it.
I have worked in the fast-food industry for the past four years, yet I’m still only paid $11 per hour, which as of Jan. 1 became the state’s minimum wage. It’s hard enough to put food on the table and a roof over my head, and now that I’m newly married and have even greater responsibilities, it’s nearly impossible.
I work between 30 and 38 hours most weeks. My take-home check is always under $300 each week. It’s just not enough. I have a family to support. We rely on Mass Health for medical coverage and can hardly afford the fare for public transportation to get to and from work. The cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Boston exceeds my paycheck, and to avoid having my family out in the cold this winter we moved into my in-law’s home in Norwood so that we can try to save enough money to eventually afford a place of our own.
When I began working at McDonald’s, it was my first offer and I needed a job to help support my mom, who had just suffered a stroke. I never thought that I would be out in the streets protesting, especially working for the second-largest corporate employer in the world. But I’ve come to realize poverty wages is not just in fast-food. The McDonald’s economics of making record profits and paying low wages are found at our airports, in health care, and in our schools.
There are 64 million Americans like me earning less than $15 per hour who are left to decide which bill they can pay and what will just have to be pushed back another month. Taxpayers suffer, too. They are left to foot the bill, subsidizing the income for underpaid workers that companies like McDonald’s could afford to pay. That’s not fair.
We won’t back down until the economy is fixed for all workers.
Norwood resident, employee at McDonald’s in Norwood; member of the National Organizing Committee of the Fight for $15
As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.