A Snapshot of Work in America

Sep 1, 2015 · 10 min read
Photo Credit: Balarama Heller

Roy — Bronx, NY

Photo Credit: Balarama Heller

“As an employer, I understand that sometimes there are things that need to get done that may be out of your control. I have a 3 year old daughter and last Christmas she had a recital. The theater was mostly empty because not a lot of adults could take the time to go see their 3 year old sing Merry Christmas. It’s the biggest thing in this 3 year old’s life and their parents can’t be there because they have to make a decision — do you take a paid leave and risk not having that time for an emergency, or worse? I have a open door policy to take family leave, I don’t count that as a pay leave vacation or sick day, that is a family day and you have to be flexible to provide for that.”

Achol — Des Moines, Iowa

“If something basic breaks, I can’t replace it. If I’m sick, I try to go to work. And when I get off, I can’t even rest. I have to make dinner, help with homework, do the laundry. If one of my kids gets sick, I can’t afford to leave work because it comes out of my paycheck. Jobs need to be more understanding of people with families. They should respect employees who are also parents. I want to be a good mom, but how can I when I live paycheck to paycheck? I am good at my job, it should be good for me.”

Nyaisha — New York, New York

“I don’t need to live a lavish life, I just want to be comfortable, to have security. Just give me a nice moderate house, a nice little car, my own space, and I will be happy. When I finally reach the point where I am not worried about meals or living paycheck to paycheck, I know I can take a breather. I just want so much more for myself, and for my family.’”

Eva — Des Moines, Iowa

“At my previous job, I worked for a maternal, newborn, and pediatric home care nursing program. Our team was continually short staffed. Everyone knew that if someone was out sick or took vacation, there wouldn’t be any additional help, and that the rest of the team would have to pick up the slack. This caused us to come to work when we weren’t well and limit scheduling time off. If we did take time off, we felt guilty about doing so and often were in contact with the office and other team members throughout the day. Our patients were also affected because when we were covering for other staff, we weren’t able to give our own patients the time they deserved.”

Trenise — Miami, Florida

“ The more that employees feel like they are being empowered and valued, the more that everybody benefits. I take pride in my job even though it’s at the bottom of the totem pole. There is more than putting food on the plate, we teach kids how to eat a nutritious meal, and why to eat fruits and vegetables every day. My staff feels the same way, we all feel pride in doing what we do.”

Ashley — New York, New York

“Oh man, there have been lots of times that, even while working full-time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make ends meet. One time in particular I remember going home and crying out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to provide for my kids. If there’s one late paycheck that would snowball into unpaid bills or not enough groceries. These things just snowball, you know? I remember thinking, ‘Does my boss realize formula for my child costs $27 a can?’”

Edward — Des Moines, Iowa

“When you know you can move up — whether an increase in pay or responsibility — that’s an added extra drive. I don’t want to stay on the same level. I want to grow. I want to do more. One day, I’d like to be able to counsel people like me, to run a recovery program or work for the VA. I love veterans. I want to help get people from zero to hero. I want employers to give opportunities to people like me. I wish more employers would take the chance. It will pay off, I just know it will.”

Roxy — Miami, Florida

“I’m proud in my current job to work with great people that truly care for others. The content of our work helps the community, but the organization itself also believes to do that you need fair and just policies internally. We’re treated fairly, given vacation, and paid time off. My boss really invests in me, both in helping to develop my skills, but also making sure I feel valued.”

Courtney — Des Moines, Iowa

Photo Credit: Balarama Heller

“I am a single mother responsible for health insurance for my two daughters and me. I had to apply for unemployment, Medicaid, and I struggled to pay my mortgage and my bills. My children have cavities that I can’t afford to have filled right now, and I have a chipped tooth that I also can’t afford to have fixed. My water heater went out a couple of months ago and it took several days to obtain the funds to replace it. Fortunately, I have new job and will have more stability, with health and dental insurance on September 1st.”


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Dedicated to #GoodJobsforAll. What makes work, work for you? http://www.workshift.us

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