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 Post subject: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:06 pm 
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this is a little rant-y but I want to hear ya'lls feels too. This has nothing to do with the specific company for whom I work, but more the general american minimum wage drag.

Okay, I started working at minimum wage in shitty low-skill jobs when I was 13, and continued to do so for 7 years. but for the past ~3 years I've been working a bunch of odd-jobs which all payed more than minimum wage but required strange hours and were not exactly dependable.

Because of my grad school schedule I am back to the standard retail drag and I am noticing a lot more bullshiitake as an adult than I did as a freaked out teenager trying to make rent.

more than half the people I work with have kids and 99% are women and this is what minimum wage workers look like in the majority of positions, adults who are trying to support their families.

I, a 23y/o single grad student, am not the norm, teenagers are not the norm, working mothers are the norm and they are feeding children on 25hrs/week at 7.25 an hour because at 26hrs/week most national chains are required to provide healthcare, which they will avoid doing at all costs.

I am very lucky in that I can work shitty minimum wage jobs for the next 2 years and then move on to different things, career paths and higher pay-grades. Most of the women I work with will not. They are trapped in this.

I'm mad at this country and I am mad at the majority of society because if you ask someone who has never worked at a minimum wage job they will assume everyone is a high school student supplementing their allowances. fork those people. fork.


I've also seen like 5 people yell at baristas for the wait in line at coffee shops in the past 4 days. what the fork?

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:18 pm 
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I am firmly in the "raise the minimum wage" camp. The whole point when it was implemented was to ensure ONE wage earner could support a family of four.
That is clearly not something that can happen now.

My son is working for Oregon min. which is amongst the highest in the nation. He cannot afford to move out. He could with a raise of even $1.50. When the opponents start screeching about profits, I ask them where are the profits going? Not back into the community.

And really, if you yell at someone who works service, you are a jerk.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:26 pm 
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I think the economy has hurt a lot of people so many jobs where you traditionally saw teenagers working are now being worked by adults who are supporting their families. I even remember the transition when I was younger and paper delivery was done by teenagers then at some point, it switched to adults with families (I remember the change distinctly happened in the early 90s).

I also think the minimum wage should be raised.

And to be fair, I only worked a minimum wage job in high school for a period of time, I was lucky that in college, my college paid students above minimum wage and I was lucky to find a good paying job after college.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:26 pm 
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kfad wrote:


And really, if you yell at someone who works service, you are a jerk.


Truth.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:36 am 
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The only thing I remember about my (non server related) minimum wage job was how my manager was a smoker and let smokers take breaks whenever they wanted, but I couldn't have a break whenever I wanted because I no longer smoked, so I started smoking again, just to have breaks all the time. (As a person still struggling to never smoke again [almost 2 months strong, woohoo!], I resent this whole scenario on so many levels.)

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:02 am 
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I know cost of living is different and stuff, but I just cannot fathom how anyone can think that $7 an hour is a living wage. Ours is bad enough (about £6.30 an hour). I have had to support myself and my ex on minimum wage and that was hard enough, but any less than that and it would have been impossible to both pay bills AND eat. It should be way higher.

I'm lucky enough to be earning more now (although I'm a freelancer, so I guess I don't technically get a wage at all), but I've worked my fair share of shitty minimum wage jobs and they're not exactly a picnic.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:16 am 
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My view probably doesn't differ from anyone else.

Minimum wage jobs are no longer about teenagers working part time jobs to pay for non-necessities. It has been documented that the average age of the fast food worker is now 28 and many of them have families to support.

Even if this wasn't true, the minimum wage should still become a living wage.

Just because a teenager living at home doesn't need as much money as someone supporting a family doesn't mean they should get paid less. That is the same kind of thinking that helped lead to women getting paid less for the same work "Oh, her husband and family is taking care of her".

I saw the best line on the internet the other day "If your employees have to use food stamps or medicare YOU are "the taker" not them.

IMHO, a "living wage" should be the "minimum wage" and that goes double for jobs where it is legal to pay less than the minimum wage, like being a waiter.

Even if conservatives are right ( big if ) that higher wages will mean fewer jobs, higher wages will also mean fewer jobs being needed. Someone will not have to work 2 minimum wage jobs to meet basic needs. Maybe they will use that leisure to improve their education, get a better job, pay more taxes and help build a strong economy, country

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:42 am 
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Basic economics states that if people have more money they spend more money. Not if three people have all the money the money will be spent. The capitalists are breaking capitalism by hoarding.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:24 am 
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I think _in theory_ that a lower minimum wage doesn't sound bad because you'd expect that people just started out, young, no experience, etc would be paid a lower salary. It'd also encourage employers to take a chance on someone without experience in order to not pay them as much. It would be seen as somewhat of a win/win there in that employers get inexpensive employees, people without work experience get work experience with a chance at a higher salary with some experience.

The problem is that in practice, it doesn't work that way. In some areas minimum wage or near minimum wage may be the standard despite years of experience. So it is a "win"/lose situation where an employer can undercut their employees and their employees, despite experience can't get ahead.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:07 am 
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Canada's is now $10.25, which is not great but is certainly more (even with inflation) than I earned when I worked those jobs. I am currently unemployed but the prospect of ever having to go back to retail sends me into inconsolable panic attacks. Nothing makes you feel worse than knowing that your job requires no special skill and that is reflected in how you are compensated. Also, the weekends, evenings, holidays. There is no way to plan a life around that. And the being treated like shiitake, being treated as lesser than, being demeaned and dehumanized by so many people. And for (next to) no compensation to ease the sting. Before I got my act together and took on massive debt to go back to school, I spent much of my early 20s bouncing around from job to job like that, and it was the worst time of my life, no exaggerating. I seriously couldn't imagine having to do it again. It breaks my heart that people do.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:24 am 
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I don't think retail takes "no skill." I similarly don't think that it's a fair implication that a person who works a retail or service position somehow doesn't have their act together.

I actually think it's that kind of societal attitude that keeps workers in those kind of positions down. I think that diminishing the work of others by creating this rather arbitrary distinction between work that is "skilled" and therefore deserving of more respect and more money, and work that is "unskilled" and therefore deserving of scorn and less money is a red herring. It's easier to focus on how "unskilled" work is crappy and how if we just pay a whole bunch of money for some piece of paper from a university, we'll not have to worry about it again, than it is to confront the problem that as a whole, workers of all types are being treated worse, and we need to stand in solidarity with each other, rather than perpetuate this petty hierarchy of whose labor is worth more because of whatever.

I hope that doesn't sound like an attack on what you said, PP. I don't mean it that way. Your statement reminded me more of a societal attitude I've run up against a lot and have been thinking about a lot lately because of things going on in my own life, and the above is my reaction to that, so please don't take it personally. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:41 am 
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Yeah, I think the skills used in retail and such are undervalued but it definitely takes various skills to work in retail, just they are skills acquired through being on the job and adapting.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:02 pm 
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We don't actually have minimum wages, only per industry and in industries with unions. The minimum wage is always ensured between the union and the workplaces. So if you got no big unions you got no minimum wage. Im in a 400 euro job (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginal_employment). Our mini wage was just upped from 400 to 450 euro though. I am a university student though and I still get support from my (lower class) parents. It's crazy because the job barely pays my rent.

In all honesty if I had to decide between no job and governement support and a horrible 450 euro job + government support, I can definitely understand why some people choose the first one.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:26 pm 
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I work a minimum wage retail job right now and while not all of the positions require the same skills, they're definitely not exactly no-skills required positions. I have specialized knowledge which is why I have a slightly better position and slightly higher pay than a lot of my co-workers. I also know that I could be let go at any time and if that were to happen I would be SOL in my life.

I fortunately work for a company that is a bit nicer to their employees than a lot of its competitors. I didn't really have any retail experience when I first began so I started at their basic pay which was slightly higher than minimum wage. Every year we get reviewed and our raise (or no raise) is determined- I believe our yearly raises are higher than those of our competitors. When we have extremely busy days or harder days (it's hot in the store, etc) they will sometimes give us free food and drinks. Without going into a lot of the details, I know that I'm a bit more fortunate than others and I happen to live in an area that is more friendly to people. I've worked at two stores within this company in two states and you see a lot of big differences in each one. I'm also fortunate because the state that I live in requires, by law, that retail workers be paid time and a half on Sundays.

I'll be honest and say that the customers are probably the most frustrating part of my job. I enjoy doing what I do and I enjoy working and working hard but when people treat you so poorly it ruins your day. I get yelled at, insulted, things thrown at me, sexually harassed, made fun of and sometimes stalked. I recently had an incident where a guy bought a video game from me and everything went well, I handed him his money, smiled, told him to have a good day, etc. Then I helped another customer and turned around, saw him playing with his money and smiled at him again and began to help someone else when he just completely flipped out on me. He started yelling at me and telling me that I was "forking rude" and that my "customer service forking sucked" and that I "threw his money at him" and this was all in front of another co-worker and customers. After a back and forth about me getting my manager, and me trying to help other guests in the meantime while physically shaking because he wouldn't stop yelling at me and blocking me from people a manager finally showed up and brought him to customer services. He came back and said that the guys story didn't seem to make any sense and before I could say anything my co-worker told him that the guy just flipped out for no reason and my manager told me to just forget about it and that it was okay. He later came back and told me that he overheard the guy talking to his friends on the phone, saying that he did it on purpose so that I would call a manager over and that he would get a discount and that he was going to go try it at a competitors store next. You can usually tell who's worked in retail before by the way they treat you. I find customers so terrible that I'm considering a pay cut in order to work with them less. However, the ones that are awesome are usually awesome.

All of this said, I still don't like the working model of minimum wage right now and I think it needs to be raised. If rent can get raised every year, if food prices and transit prices can be raised, why the hell can't our wages be raised? It's like a body of water with the people inside, the water keeps rising around them until it drowns everyone. I shouldn't really be able to say that I'm fortunate because I work for X company which isn't as terrible as Y company. We should all be fortunate to be working jobs that treat us like the human beings that we are. This is especially considering all of the college graduates who can't find a job in their field so are stuck in retail. One of my old managers had a degree in microbiology from a top institution and now works in retail. It's the same story for so many people that I know.

I could go on and on and on.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:38 pm 
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I'm lucky in the sense that I've been working retail for so long (10 years) that my skills command a wage higher than minimum. I graduated a few years ago and it's depressing some days to still be in retail but a lot of people in my family with professional degrees are unemployed (teacher, police officer) so I feel blessed and try not to complain much. I'm going back to school for a masters degree in accounting and I hope that helps me learn some practical skills and find a job with better pay and hours. I agree that the minimum wage workforce is changing- almost every coworker I've had in the past three-four years has had a college degree and a family to support at home.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:11 pm 
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kfad wrote:
And really, if you yell at someone who works service, you are a jerk.


Very very true, I used to work for a major clothing retailer/chain store in the UK, I had to deal with my fair share of moronic customers (its seems that its always the front of store staff who have to take the flak for decisions made by management (such as only giving exchanges/no refunds on boxing day which goes down like a lead balloon with shoppers and brings a whole new meaning to the term "boxing day")).
But I also had some lovely ones (and being a bit naughty always told them if they could get something cheaper elsewhere).

I certainly don't think minimum wage = no skill, but I do think that sometimes minimum wage staff will have all the tasks that no-one else wants shoved on them which was one of the primary reasons I left.
I was asked by the LPO to dress up in a bear costume and dance around outside the shop.
I said no I'm diabetic and it would make me hypo.
He said they would give me a box of Mars Bars.
I said I was vegan and informed him he could shove his Mars Bars up his Milky Way. I left shortly after

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:21 pm 
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My first job out of university was making tea in an office. The office manager was a control freak who was going through some tough times in her personal life and would occasionally like to shout at me about whether I'd left early the day before (I never did leave early) or that I should bleach the teaspoons. I lasted two months before deciding that living off my savings for a little while was the better option.


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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:38 pm 
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Working a minimum wage job for years while I was in school certainly opened my eyes to the plight of people living in poverty in this country. Although there were a few other young people like myself, most of the restaurant was middle aged lifers. They were a mix of people who had zero social or family life and worked 80 hours a week and single moms. This is such a horrible story but I feel like I have to add it, the floor manager, who trained me and I really liked, had worked for the restaurant since she was a teen. She was in her late 40s. One night her husband attacked her, stabbed her like 20 times, and left her for dead in a garbage dumpster two towns over. She didn't have any health care and she was back to work in a two weeks and almost lost her job.

The low wages plus the lack of benefits makes so many people living in poverty's experience closer to a third world country than what the US is supposed to be.

I also think it's such bullshiitake that students don't deserve a living wage when, in my experience, everyone I knew who had to work as a teen was doing it to save for college. I worked for years, as soon as I was old enough, some nights and then 12-12 Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and it paid for one semester. Why are students supposed to go into debt for the rest of their life? Why don't they deserve to be able to buy a car or a house?

Meanwhile the 1% is now richer than anytime after 1929.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:39 pm 
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I'm trying to find a video on this that I saw on Upworthy, but until then, there's this.

http://www.upworthy.com/the-reality-of-who-actually-works-for-minimum-wage-will-shock-you-5

And this.

http://www.upworthy.com/one-fact-about-raising-the-minimum-wage-is-so-unbelievable-i-had-to-fact-check-it-like-5-times

ETA: The video was a fast food employee talking about being on strike. He worked at Burger King and somewhere else. I still can't find the video; not sure if anyone else saw it?

ETA2: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/2/we_are_slowly_dying_fast_food
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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:04 pm 
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LazySmurf wrote:
Working a minimum wage job for years while I was in school certainly opened my eyes to the plight of people living in poverty in this country. Although there were a few other young people like myself, most of the restaurant was middle aged lifers. They were a mix of people who had zero social or family life and worked 80 hours a week and single moms. This is such a horrible story but I feel like I have to add it, the floor manager, who trained me and I really liked, had worked for the restaurant since she was a teen. She was in her late 40s. One night her husband attacked her, stabbed her like 20 times, and left her for dead in a garbage dumpster two towns over. She didn't have any health care and she was back to work in a two weeks and almost lost her job.

This is horrific.

LazySmurf wrote:
The low wages plus the lack of benefits makes so many people living in poverty's experience closer to a third world country than what the US is supposed to be.

yeah. Unfortunately too many people seem to think that people somehow choose this kind of life and thus somehow deserve it.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:15 pm 
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I can tell you right now that I do not have the social skills required for retail. If someone told me I could work in a clothing store helping customers all day or pack and lift boxes all day, i'd pick the manual labor in a heartbeat. You may not need experience to be hired, but that doesn't mean there aren't skills involved in being a salesperson.

Anyway, my first job was as a file clerk for the daycare division of DCFS - we worked in a separate, much smaller building and almost everyone was either a contract worker or a temp. As a temp, I made $6.30 an hour (I think minimum wage was $6 at the time). It was honestly my dream job other than the pay, because I was alone in the file room, I worked downtown which meant I could get lunch in a variety of places and I got an apartment eight blocks away so barring bad weather I walked to and from work (I didn't have a license), my bosses and I liked each other. I love dull work that doesn't follow me home. I actually inquired about getting hired on contract, and made it clear that I really liked the job (the file clerk position was the hardest to keep filled, when I started there hadn't been one in over a month and it took me a long time to catch up) and would stay long term if I made a little bit more money. But the temp agency I came through charged a hiring fee, so they wouldn't do it. I could afford my rent, but I had no cable and was borrowing my parents' dial-up password on a dying computer on my one phone line, which meant I was bored a lot and I wanted more so I sought out other temp jobs and moved on.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:08 pm 
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kfad wrote:
Basic economics states that if people have more money they spend more money. Not if three people have all the money the money will be spent. The capitalists are breaking capitalism by hoarding.


I recently saw a TED talk where a silicon valley 1% er said as much with fancy charts and implored his fellow 1%ers to start paying people more otherwise nobody would have the money for their products.

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 Post subject: Re: Lets talk about our minimum wage jobs (past and future)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:14 pm 
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I said I was vegan and informed him he could shove his Mars Bars up his Milky Way.


Best response ever.

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