By Ross Lenihan
Much has been said about the union-led Fight for 15 movement. Much less has been said about the actual day-to-day lives of those workers fighting for a higher minimum wage and the right to form a union. To correct that, this week we look at Shymara Jones, a single mother living in Philadelphia who works at Popeyes.
According to Philly.com, Ms. Jones brings home less than $600 a month from her fast food job, which she uses to support herself, her young child, her mother, and multiple other siblings, all of whom share a three-bedroom row house in a worn down area of Philly. In addition to her job at Popeyes, Ms. Jones is reliant on $300/month in taxpayer-funded food stamps (because her wages are so low) as well as government-subsidized childcare (again, because of paltry wages).
Ms. Jones says she instantly recognized the power of solidarity in the Fight for 15 campaign in making real change in her life:
A month after Jones got involved, she went on her first strike, walking off her job at Popeyes, joining others in Philadelphia and in as many as 150 U.S. cities on May 15, 2014.
The next day, Jones got a raise, from $7.25 to $7.50. She now earns $8.50 an hour, receiving her most recent raise after a strike last month.
You might not think of Popeyes as too expensive to afford, but employees like Ms. Jones have a different view: “Popeyes is expensive. Making $8.50 an hour, I can't buy a meal from Popeyes and feed my family…[But] say I'm making $15 an hour, then I can take my son to Popeyes to eat. I love the food."
We salute Ms. Jones and all the hard-working Americans pushing for a $15 minimum wage AND the right to have a union.
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