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You Think You’re Getting a Raise But What’s Really In Your Future is the Unemployment Line

Mia Constantino Cachilli

A video entitled, Labor’s $15 Wage Strategy by Samantha Stark was recently published in the New York Times. It tells the story of a young single mother working two jobs from 6 in the morning until 11 at night, each paying $7.50 an hour.

Organizers push for $15 minimum wage in her area, hoping their efforts will equalize workers under the umbrella of Civil Rights by aligning that with economic racial justice. Their movement is called Fight for $15.

Living beyond her means with co-pays out of reach, she feels overwhelmed and discouraged. As a single mother, she’s aware that she doesn’t enjoy the rewards of her labor. She’s too busy hustling to survive. As she speaks, her eyes well up and the guilt she feels over not being home to be the one teaching her daughter things as basic as tying her shoes. She laments that she’s “missing her growing up” while she works to keep them afloat.Working so hard to make ends meet leaves her “depleted,” she says. So she joins the Fight for $15.

Fight for $15

Fight for $15

The woman toy’s with the idea of giving up, which to her means quitting her job to be dependent on welfare. She’s quick to add, “that’s not me.” She says those feeling pass and she presses onward.

She associates the Black Lives Matter movement with the Fight for $15. She bases this on her observation that most people fighting for $15 look like her. She is black. “Childcare, housing & food are all issues for the people” she works with, she says.

The woman marches in a Fight for $15 event and proclaims she “feels happy.” She compares the Fight for $15 to “people fighting for humanity, human-ness.”

She explains that human-ness is not a “feeling afforded to all” That the “security and being a valued part of a society is something everyone deserves.”

She say’s they’ve reached a point where they’re saying “no more” and that this breaking point is “the most human point everyone could ever have.”

Unfortunately, for this woman and so many in the Fight for $15, they don’t realize that trying to force their employers to increase their pay, without increasing revenue proportionately, will put them out of work and on the unemployment line.  The answer lays in formulating a strategy that will increase jobs skills sets with which to offer employers.  Skills sets add value to an employee and draw a higher wage.

This young woman is a very determined hard worker. If she could be mentored to go back to school and earn a degree, a certification, or a license of some sort, she would immediately be in a higher wage bracket. If all of those putting their efforts toward their Fight for $15 would instead put forth the effort to increase their employ-ability with skills that demand higher pay, they would earn their way into the next level of financial success. This is how “security and being a valued part of a society as something everyone deserves” is achieved.

It’s not about Civil Right’s or race. It’s about knowing what you don’t know.  The Fight for $15 crowd needs to become informed of how the process of earning better money works and then, be encouraged to pursue it.

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