The world of low-wage workers El mundo de los trabajadores de bajos salarios


Who are these people asking for better wages?

And what’s it like working at a warehouse, a carwash, a fast food joint?

Besides covering the marches and rallies, can you tell us who these people are?

Here, for example, is an excerpt from a profile of a fast-food striker in California that appeared recently in the New Yorker

“I visited Roberts at her ground-floor home on an industrial street in Oakland. She lives in a wooden house subdivided into three apartments; her apartment—a single room, perhaps a hundred and thirty square feet—shares a wall with the storage area for a large Asian supermarket. Roberts keeps her clothes in a small bureau by her bed; atop the bureau are a couple of old TVs (freebies from friends) and a forty-dollar DVD player that she bought from Radio Shack after saving for months. Along with the Puma boots that she bought two years ago, for thirty dollars, the DVD player is one of few possessions she has purchased for herself.

“In a space between the foot of her bed and the modest kitchen (stove top, sink, fridge), Thomas sleeps on a floor mat. Before he goes to school each morning, he rolls up his mat and hoists it onto a storage shelf. When one of his older sisters, both students at Humboldt State, come to stay, they sleep in the bed with their mother. “I wish there was room to walk around, so I could bring more stuff over,” her younger daughter, Tyani, who is nineteen, told me.

“The small bathroom, with a toilet and an old, cracked bathtub, is in the hallway outside Roberts’s apartment. She shares it with the building’s other occupants; one is a young waitress who works across the bay, in San Francisco; another is a lady who gets up early and comes home late—Roberts hardly ever sees her.

For these accommodations, Roberts pays five hundred and forty dollars a month, which includes utilities. Since she is almost always late with her rent, she also has to pay a fifty-dollar late fee. Most months, Roberts’s four weekly paychecks—before taxes, and before the small weekly deductions for overdue child support, owed to her mother for raising her daughters—add up to a little less than seven hundred dollars. Factor in the deductions, and that leaves her with about a hundred and thirty dollars each week: about equal to the rent that she owes.”

What can we say about what’s happening here in Chicago, amid unprecedented campaigns on behalf low wage workers? Isn’t this a story that needs to be told, and a situation that calls for out for explanation?

Join us at our forum on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 6 pm at Columbia College and you’ll learn from over two dozen groups and individuals about what’s happening now and why it matters for a great number of people and communities.

We’ll be meeting at 618 S. Michigan Ave., Stage Two, Columbia College

And if you want to know more, talk to me

Steve@chicagoistheworld.org , office 312 369 6400fightfor15 (1)



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