Your organization’s opinion piece opposing Measure E, the Opportunity to Work initiative, claimed that simply offering hours to current workers before hiring new part-time employees would be “devastating.” I don’t think you truly understand what devastating means.
Devastating is trying to put food on the table when your employer cuts your hours in half. Devastating is being forced to juggle the erratic schedules of two or three jobs just to pick up a few hours. The daily struggles that part-time workers experience and the obstacles we overcome just to survive are devastating. I want to tell you about the devastating impacts of not being able to work enough hours, of going to bed hungry, of not being able to provide for your family.
I’ve been a hardworking McDonald’s employee for the last sixteen years. I was promoted to manager two years ago, but the promotion came without a raise and no additional pay so I had to give it up. Soon after, McDonald’s cut my hours by more than half. Before, I worked 40 hours a week, but for the last six months, I’ve only worked 16 hours a week. This means I take home $220 every two weeks.
My husband and I have had to make numerous sacrifices to cope with our new situation. Before, it was just the two of us living in our house, but now we rent out rooms in our home — one to another couple and their two children, and the other to a friend and her three children. That’s nine of us living in a three-bedroom home.
We have to rely mostly on my husband’s income since mine is so low. I do what I can to help, like collect recyclables from neighbors, friends and family to exchange them for cash. My daughter helps me when she can, but she has my granddaughter to take care of, too.
While you sit comfortably in your office and declare that the “sky is falling” on businesses, I actually go through every day hungry. There are days when I can barely afford to eat, much less meet my other expenses and needs, because I have less than $5 in my pocket. I can’t afford to pay medical bills. That’s devastating.
I’m hungry because I can’t afford the food I need, but I am also hungry for opportunity.
I don’t want gifts or special favors from my employer — I just want the opportunity to work more hours, to work hard, and to help my family get ahead.
That’s why on Monday, even though I’ll be scrambling to pick up extra hours, I will come to you with a special delivery: a basket filled with all of the food I can afford to buy in one day on my part-time salary. Then maybe you will understand what “devastation” means for workers like me.