The rage over minimum wage

A policeman shakes his fist in warning at a female WPA striker in front of WPA headquarters in Oakland, Calif., April 1, 1937 (AP Photo)
A policeman shakes his fist in warning at a female WPA striker in front of WPA headquarters in Oakland, Calif., April 1, 1937 (AP Photo)

By Andrea Zimmerman
Staff Contributor

According to a report by The United States Department of Labor (DOL) published on March 14, 2013, there are several myths about raising minimum wage.  For example, they speculate that about 20 percent of those who would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase are teenagers, and 60 percent of them are women.

The cost of living has drastically increased since 2007, yet the minimum wage has remained stagnant. As President Obama makes his move to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers, this change could impact the lives of as many as 10 million U.S. workers.

As a single mom, a full time employee, and a college student, I know far too well how hard and almost impossible it is to live off of a thousand dollars a month. If I were not receiving financial aid I would have to work an additional two or three jobs just to meet my living expenses.

I often wonder about my peers, who are in a similar position, and who can’t get help financially from higher education. They are left in menial jobs because they have families to feed, yet they still are unable to fully pay their bills. Would an increase in minimum wage help these struggling families better their lives?  I believe it definitely would improve the lives of millions of American workers.

In 2007, I started working for a popular hotel chain, earning nine dollars an hour with the promise of a raise the following year contingent on my performance. I helped bring this hotel from number 10 in customer service up to number 1.  I received a 25 cent raise and worked for that same company for another four years without ever receiving another raise. Additionally, I only missed three sick days. I couldn’t afford to be sick, and I couldn’t afford health insurance. Our employer did not allow sick days with pay.

I believed if I worked hard enough for this company in time I would receive a livable wage, it never happened. As I watched the increase in their profits rise and still no mention of a raise, I knew something had to give. I am lucky enough to be able to return to college, yet I know there are many minimum wage workers who don’t have this opportunity available to them. As the rage over minimum wage continues, I hope citizens ask their Congressmen and Representatives to support an increase in the minimum wage.

Corporations such as Walmart and McDonalds and many other huge companies should be ashamed of themselves, as they squeeze huge profits out of their employees. Moms, dads, senior citizens, college students, and, yes, teenagers are living in poverty. Many of their CEO’s are driving luxury cars, and buying several luxurious homes while they continue to argue against raising minimum wage.

When over 10 million people are living in poverty in the United States, and with gas prices fluctuating between $3.30 and $4.50 a gallon, and with the average worker making anywhere from $7.75- $10.10 an hour, it is time to raise the minimum wage to a wage that people can live on!

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