The Real Fight Behind the Fight for $15
You come home after another long day of standing on your feet and attempting to keep your customer service smile in the midst of ignorance and chaos. You kick off your shoes and gratefully sink into your bed nestled in the corner of your studio apartment. As you contemplate skipping dinner due to your abysmal options, you are already dreading getting up in the morning to do the same thing all over again at your two part time jobs.
Your story is comparable to the next millennial in your generation. Eager to depart from your parents’ house (or kicked out), you take whatever job(s) are available to begin providing for yourself. But most of these employment opportunities are only part time, offering minimum wage. It is a struggle each month to make ends meet, and God forbid a health issue arise as neither of these jobs are providing health benefits to part-timers, whether health insurance or paid time off.
Without a college degree, you feel your options are limited in attempting to procure a higher wage job. You would need to know someone to even get your foot in the door. And even if you had the time to take classes in the midst of double-shifts, the prospect of being in that much debt is not appealing either.
What if you had children? What if you were a single parent? You can’t even imagine how those around you facing similar situations with these added stresses manage to get by each month.
As you check your phone for the latest news, your heart skips a beat as you read the headline that your city has officially passed the law to increase the minimum wage. It appears all the protests and marches have finally paid off; over the course of the next five years, the minimum wage will increase to $15 an hour! An indescribable sense of relief washes over you as you imagine being able to not only pay all your bills on time, but even save some up for a much needed vacation.
As the first couple of years pass and your wages slowly, but steadily increase, you begin to feel the change is not happening fast enough. Your groceries do not seem to stretch as far as you need them to. The boxes hold less contents despite being the same size as before. Now that you think about it, the prices of essential household items are slightly higher than you remember. And you don’t recall spending that much on your last oil change.
As time drags on, you see some of your fellow coworkers laid off as new technology makes their labor power unnecessary. Could your job be at jeopardy as well?
You make it to the fifth and final year, remaining at your jobs long enough to see them both make it to the promised $15 per hour. But any satisfaction you could have felt is deflated as you receive a notice that your rent will be increasing should you choose to keep your apartment for the next leasing year. Sure, you could afford it and manage your other bills if you continue receiving decent hours at both jobs and budgeted efficiently. But a strange sense of déjà vu comes over you as you recall being in the same exact situation five years ago…
How did this happen? Why did this happen? What should you really fight for to create real change?
The Nazarene Journal
A publication of the Nazarene Messianic Party
Let us build on true independence and salvation for the people