Archive for April 27th, 2012

Life on Minimum Wage

At work yesterday I found, in at a townhouse complex, a pay stub that someone had slipped into the outgoing mail. It is not uncommon for people to do this when they find something with an address on it. It was from McDonald’s, and it belonged to a woman on my new route. I glanced at it. The woman had worked 61.14 hours. Her take home pay?  $392.10.

At first I thought this was a long week, but when I mentioned it to someone at work he said that it was most likely a biweekly paycheck for a part time worker. Doing the math (minimum wage in Ohio is $7.70 an hour) I realized that this was probably the case. Still, to work  for such a pittance seems like a huge injustice. Fast food workers work hard, harder than most wealthy people ever will. Their insurance plans, which they pay for, are a joke, with ridiculously low caps on payments. They get no paid sick leave or vacations. While sometimes one sees a sort of camaraderie in the work crews, it is not uncommon to see nasty bosses making already difficult lives miserable.

I am, as I said, new to the route. I don’t know the woman, don’t know if she is young or old, married or single, childless or a mother. But I do know that no one, in justice, should receive such low pay for such long and hard work.

And I felt a wave of guilt; I often complain about the difficulties of supporting a big family on my modest income, but really, I have it good beyond measure compared to someone eking out a living on minimum wage. This little glimpse into another’s life was humbling and made me thankful.

It also made me angry. I know the obstacles to organizing labor unions for fast food and other oppressed workers are huge; the law does not favor labor. But it is to be devoutly hoped that some workers will try, and that labor unions will see the organizing of the “poorest of the poor” workers as a priority.

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Noblesse Oblige

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