By Marivir R. Montebon
A single-mother with two children earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour needs to work 125 hours per week, more hours than there are in a 5-day week, to earn a living wage. Catherine Mendonca said, please don’t tell me to be silent.
New York City — New Yorkers have said their piece in the nationwide demand to legislate at least $15 hourly wage hike yesterday. Although a steep climb to have it discussed at the New York Senate and Assembly, the $15 may not even be enough to afford a decent living for wage earners.
To earn $15 an hour working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year will mean $31,200 in annual income, still a tough budget to meet the cost of living, particularly in New York.
The Living Wage Calculator (www.livingwage.mit.edu) revealed that the poverty threshold across the country is at $23,283 (for two working adults, two children) and the median living wage at $51,224 (for two working adults, two children per year before taxes).
“With sky high rent prices and recent transportation hikes, generations of New Yorkers are being financially pushed out of the city they call home. Low wage workers must constantly make life or death decisions on the basis of what they can afford — pay rent or buy food? Buy food or pay for expensive medical treatment? Work long hours to make livable income and consequently suffer from workplace stress. $15 is a perfectly justified ask,” said Olivia Trinlas, coordinator for the transnational feminist organization AF3IRM in New York.
She marched along with thousands of fast food workers and low wage earners in the city Wednesday in the Fight for $15 campaign as well as the right to form a union, participated by 230 cities nationwide.
A young wage earner and union member in New York standing at the park on Lincoln Center said the campaign will continue until the demands are met.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a minimum wage of $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 in the rest of the state by the end of 2016. But Legislature would likely not take up the hike before adjourning in June. “It’s not urgent in terms of a timeliness,” he told media.
A $9 wage hike is scheduled for January next year. Meanwhile, a single-mother with two children earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour needs to work 125 hours per week, more hours than there are in a 5-day week, to earn a living wage, the MIT wage calculator said.
To the New York legislature and the governor, her situation is not that urgent and timely.
In San Diego, California, the voice of Catherine Mendonca of AF3IRM resonates the urgency. On her Facebook shout-out she said, defying the divide of the single mom’s poor wages and the poverty wages of fast food workers, “As if women’s issues, such as single mothers making poor wages and the front line workers in social services making poverty wages are such a burden. I’m trying to create a paradigm shift in thinking when we talk about #FIGHTINGFOR15, we are all low wage, many immigrant, many houseless, or on the verge being houseless. Don’t tell me to be silent.” (Photo by Olivia Trinlas)