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One Step Forward Two Steps Back

I was going to blog about this yesterday but I didn't want to follow that upbeat post with something gloomy quite so quickly. Nathan Newman's Labor Blog raises a host of disturbing points about the one-step-forward-two-steps-back Santorum minimum wage bill currently in Congress.

Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum is leading the charge for a GOP bill that would ostensibly raise the minimum wage by $1.10 per hour, but in reality would cut wages for millions of American workers and expand unregulated sweatshops across the country.

As a minimum wage employee myself, I have some strong opinions about how fucked-up the minimum wage laws are. I see up-close and personal exactly how difficult it is for people to make ends meet even on San Francisco's generous $8.62/hr minimum wage.

In short, it's hard as hell to make ends meet when you work for the minimum wage. One of my co-workers has 6 roommates. Another lives in a neighborhood so bad that she's arranged to have her roommate meet her at the store to walk her home after dark. Another shares a one-room efficiency with his wife. That doesn't sound so bad, but in about 2 months' time they'll add a baby into that one room. He has been apartment hunting, but says they simply can't find something bigger that they can afford. Still another co-worker, a father with two young daughters, works 2 jobs and tells me that on a good night he gets 5 hours of sleep. Some of my colleagues are trying to go to school while they work but that presents its own set of challenges: the more classes you take, the less hours you can work, but the fewer classes you take, the longer it takes before you'll finish your degree.

I could go on but I'm getting too depressed. I know I'm lucky because I have a husband with a decent job and thus am not relying on my minimum-wage plus tips income to the same extent that the rest of my co-workers do. That could change at any time, of course. If the last several years have taught me nothing, they've taught me to not make any assumptions about the permamance of any job. Every day Scott and I still have our jobs, it feels like a small victory.

And in related depressing news, the LA Times has put their entire series of articles about why American families are so screwed into a non-registration required special section. It's also worth a read.

Comments (1)

Yeah, the whole minimum wage/work week thing, combined with the bankruptcy law, is nothing short of class warfare. I liked the LA Times articles, thanks for linking to them.

I like your blog & link to it on mine. Just stopping by to say hi!




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