Jenny is a supporter of The Fairness Project from Washington.
Many argue against raising the wage, but I live in a city that has made the leap to the $15 minimum wage, and the change has made my life so much better.
I work in a call center for a local pizza company in downtown Seattle. The $15 an hour wage is still being phased in, but even just the incremental increase to about $12 has been monumentally helpful.
I am partially disabled and my spouse took care of me for five years while I learned how to walk again. This pizza company hired me to work my first job after the accident (nearly four years without work) at ten hours a week and about $10 an hour. I was very nervous about my ability to perform the job at that many hours, but soon found that I could and excelled at it. I increased my hours to 30+ per week in a few months’ time.
Wage increases were small and infrequent, but the passing of the $15 minimum wage bumped up my wage by nearly $2 dollars an hour. I was promoted to supervisor a few months ago and my wage is now over $15 an hour.
It is incredible the difference in each and every day. I am much less stressed and much more able to smile at my neighbors and contribute to causes near and dear to my heart.
The cost of rent alone had been taking up half of the combined income of my husband and I for several years. Before, rent always came first, then electricity and food – usually from food banks as we qualified for no additional assistance. We worked in some fun as often as possible, but it was very rare. Soon after the bump, we were finally able to pay our bills on time and set a little aside. I no longer have to call each of my utilities and phone company each month to beg for an extension on my bills, or pay late fees and re-connection fees.
I do believe that the community has seen a positive effect from Seattle’s wage bump in general. I know my co-workers have. I cannot speak to anyone else’s experience, but my eyes tell me a lovely story of fewer people struggling. That story will only get better as the $15 goal comes closer. I do believe the rest of the nation will follow, indeed – New York and California already have.
As long as economic inequality continues we will not be able to close the gaps of mistrust, prejudice, and even hate that continues to divide us. We will only be stronger as a nation if all our citizens are making a living wage.