At Work

Why I’m Fighting for Higher Wages : U.S. Department of Labor Blog

Ok, I’m not going to comment on this Department of Labor blog post, but I wish you would.

What is the problem here? Is it the minimum wage? Is it lack of education? Is it life choices? Will $15.00 an hour fix whatever the problem is?


Why I’m Fighting for Higher Wages

Worker Voice by Alicia Roberson on September 15, 2015 •

I work at Dollar Tree, and while I make more than the state minimum wage of $8.15, it is only ten cents more. My last paycheck was $178.

I recently had the chance to sit down with other workers and talk with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and SEIU Healthcare Michigan President Marge Robinson. We were there to explain why as people largely making the minimum wage, people working too few hours, people with rent, gas and other bills to pay, we need higher pay. Together, we shared how hard it is to pay for transportation, to pay the rent, to just make ends meet… and how we met each other protesting for higher wages and a voice in our workplaces.

Renita, a woman who works as a home healthcare giver said that she hopes that pay will go up so that when she needs it, someone can earn enough to take care of her, too. When it was my turn to speak, I got choked up because the reality of low wages and the struggle in my daily life had just hit home.

Two days before our conversation, I was evicted from my home. That morning, I was living in my car. As a mother of three, there’s not much worse than sleeping in your car. Or thinking about whether you can put clothes on your child’s back. Or food on the table.

My low wages mean I have to make choices about one or the other every day. No one should have to do that. It’s very hard when your child is hungry and you cannot feed him. Have you ever heard the cry of a hungry child? It’s terrifying. As the school year starts, I can’t afford new clothes or school supplies for my kids.

After our conversation Mayor Duggan offered to help me find housing, and I believe the fact that Mr. Perez came to Detroit to listen to us shows that our Fight for $15 is having an impact. But I do hope that he and others hear that we need the fight to move along faster, because we can’t survive on minimum wage. I’m going to continue to speak up for better wages… until my voice is heard. Alicia Roberson lives and works in Detroit, Michigan.

Source: Why I’m Fighting for Higher Wages : U.S. Department of Labor Blog


6 replies »

  1. Obviously, if she wants a job that pays more than the minimum wage, she either has to convince DollarTree that she is worth it, or convince some other employer to pay her more to win her service. Does she believe her efforts are worth more to dollar tree? If so, it should be able to achieve either solution.

    However, I suspect she approaches politicians because she really doesn’t earn more than minimum wage. In America, since Richard Nixon, that is what the earned income credit is for.

    Funny thing. In LA when the minimum wage went up, some asked for less hours so as to leave their EITC Unchanged.


  2. It would be fair to raise the minimum wages to the point it is adjusted for inflation from the last increase and then apply annual COLA from then on. Arbitrarily setting it based only on politics is not helpful. Raising the minimum alone is not the answer to helping low income families, getting out of a minimum wage job is.


  3. It is a combination of lifestyle choices and a lack of education. Most people do not need a college education. They could learn a valuable skill at a trade school (HVAC, Beauty & Cosmetology, Culinary, Accounting, Admin roles, Technology, Criminal & Justice, etc., etc.) there are many opportunities out there for anyone IF they want to pick themselves up and do it! Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not the answer. After that, what…five years later those making $15 need $20 an hour? Not for working as a clerk/cashier in a Dept. Store or “do you want fries with that” at fast food joint. This should not be a country of handouts. Jobs will be lost if $15 an hour is mandated – Bank on it! Take responsibility for your choices, accept that you have got to better yourself, and do something about it!


  4. I am all for a minimum wage that will support you, as in one person, the wage earner. I am not sure what a fair wage should be. A person should be able to find a job that offers full time employment too. However I do not think the minimum should be enough to support a family of four. If you want to have three kids then get the education and job that can support them before having children.

    I worked for below minimum wage, I learned two different vocations before landing a very high paying job on a high school education, but I took advantage of every job training program offered since then and now I have a college degree but it is not required for my job. I also saved my money and will be able to retire.

    Legal immigrants usually take the lowest paying jobs and save their money and make a better life. The next generation often puts education and school first until they land that dream job that can support their families. I have not heard any stories of them coming to America for a handout and higher wages just because they have three kids.


  5. I am 59 and remember making $9.10 per hour in 1975 loading trucks for Gallo wine in Commerce CA. I had a friend get me the job, while most of my peers were making $2 per hour minimum wage. I only worked the job a short time, enlisting in the USAF in 1976. I never worked a minimum wage job even with just a high school education. That is until I retired from the USAF in 1995. With a reduced pension because I only served 19 years 1 month, that 11 months cost me $80 per month. As soon as you tell someone you have a USAF pension they expect you to work for less. I believe minimum wage should be indexed to inflation, we did it in Montana in 2008 and the wage is now $8.05. We heard from all the business owners before the vote, there will be jobs lost and businesses close if it passes. None of that happened and I do not think prices have gone up any more than any place else. I know most wages have not kept up with inflation of course unless you are a CEO. CEO pay in 1975 was about 50 times more than the average worker, today it is 250-400 times more. I do not know how you fix it but indexing minimum wage to inflation is not going to kill this economy and it might just help a few families have a little better life.


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