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Meet Four Working Moms Who Fought For Higher Wages

Mothers struggling to get by on low wages made headlines in 2014. Some got in trouble for leaving their children in a car or on a playground while they worked because they couldn’t afford child care. Politicians highlighted the plight of low-wage working women in stump speeches. And Walmart moms protested for better pay and working conditions.

The news stories were reminders of how single moms acutely feel the pain of the low-wage economy. Women make up the majority of minimum-wage workers, and theyhave been disproportionately affected by what has for years been a part-time, low-wage recovery. A single mom making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hourmust work 125 hours a week to afford food, shelter and child care for two kids, according to MIT’s Living Wage calculator.

Of course, many of these issues existed long before 2014. And there’s little sign the situation will change dramatically for these women in the years to come: The low-wage jobs the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will have the fastest growth through 2022 are female-dominated.

Beyond the headlines, there are stories of daily struggle that don’t get nearly as much attention — getting dinner on the table before heading to work or finding a friend to watch the kids during weekend shifts.

The women whose stories you’ll read below are trying to make a difference by keeping the world focused on the problems of women in low-wage jobs once the news cameras have moved on. All have taken part in campaigns to raise wages for low-wage workers. They’ve protested at fast food restaurants and helped sign people up to vote. Their efforts — along with other demonstrations, protests and outcry — have had an impact:Twenty states will raise their minimum wages on New Year’s Day.

Nakima Jones, 37, waitress, living in New York City with three kids :

Nakima Jones at a rally for restaurant workers in September.

I’ve been in the industry for 13 years. I’ve been having it hard since I started. Sexual harassment is one of my big issues. I’m a big-breasted woman, so that was one of the only ways that I could get certain things. Why do I have to be so nice to you get a good tip? Why do you have to say “hey baby how are you doing? Take my number”? If I don’t take it, that means I’m not going to get a good tip, and they still would leave you a bad tip anyway. I did all that nice stuff for no reason.

I’m here to work, make money and leave. I’m not doing no extra. If I want that section I should be able to get it if I come in on time and do what I need to do.

I have kids, you have to learn how to respect yourself.

My kids go to school in the daytime and I try to usually work in the evenings. By the time I go to work, they’re home, they’re settled and I’ve cooked dinner for them.

I make all the money in my family, it’s just me. I’m a single parent — that’s another thing that’s hard.

Why do I have to keep getting $5 an hour? We deserve better. There are a lot of people that are afraid to speak up. If we’re here standing strong, why can’t the government help us out?

Patrice Dandridge, 44, home health aide living in Chicago. Has a 26-year-old daughter:

Patrice Dandridge.

I just love helping people in every way possible. Being a health care aide, you’re helping people that can’t help themselves. I have three clients that I help.

I don’t make minimum wage, I make $10 an hour. It’s still not much, it’s not easy for me to get by, with the cost of living going up all the time. You can’t find an apartment that you can keep up with your rent earning $10 an hour. My expenses are more than I make. I can bring home $1,200 a month, rent is $700, light and gas is $100 apiece, and we’re not even talking about cell phone bills and other personal expenses.

[Growing up], my daughter spent a lot of time with my mom, and eventually my mom and I decided to let my daughter stay with her because I couldn’t afford to take care of both of us because of my income. Thank God for my mom of course.

Politicians basically look out for the middle class and the upper class, and they support them more. I just complained about it, and I finally realized that I can complain all day long, but I have to start doing something more. It takes a community to come together to get what we want. Until the community can come together, then politicians aren’t really going to listen.

Paola Cabrera, 28, fast food worker living in New York City with her two kids:

Story told in Spanish through a translator.

Paola Cabrera with her three-year-old daughter.

For a year I lived at a shelter on 28th Street and Fifth Avenue. It only had a microwave and a refrigerator. The little that I earned at McDonald’s was just enough to buy food. As the head of my household they don’t give me enough. I earn $170 weekly. It’s really hard for me when my kids ask for a toy and I can’t buy it for them. It’s heartbreaking.

I want to provide as much as I can. Every month I get $140 in food stamps. I also get $100 every two weeks in cash assistance. That’s not enough living in the shelter where everything is so expensive around me. I can’t save up to make more. Living in New York is a constant struggle.

I used to work in assisted living. I couldn’t make it to interviews to renew my license because I couldn’t get child care. Now, I have subsidized child care. It’s really hard to get it, I spent 2 1/2 months filing paperwork. On weekends I work overnight and I don’t get to see my kids. Paying for a babysitter on a weekend is too expensive, so they usually stay with my friend.

The second week of working was when I decided things weren’t OK. That’s why I’m part of the movement now. I’ve done strikes, interviews, conferences. I’m encouraging all of my coworkers to join. A lot of them are afraid. I try to motivate them not to be afraid. It’s a free country.

I see my work at McDonald’s as just a stepping stone. I’m studying criminal justice, and I take online courses every Sunday. I want to do better and become better. Whoever I leave behind I’ll keep motivating. I’ll never stop fighting.

[Editor’s note: A representative for McDonald’s noted that about 90 percent of McDonald’s restaurants are owned by independent franchisees. “The topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald’s — it affects our country’s entire workforce,” she wrote. “McDonald’s and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace.”]

Claudia Leon, 36, maintenance worker and cashier. Lives in New York City, and her three kids live in Mexico:

Story told in Spanish through a translator.

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Claudia Leon.

I was working in a restaurant for $120 per week plus tips. I couldn’t support my family making that wage, and on top of that I had my tips stolen. I worked six days a week for eight or nine hours a day, and I didn’t have breaks. They would call me names, they would tell me I should quit my job. You end up staying there because you need to work and you need to provide. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving; I came to the U.S. four years ago from Mexico, and it was the only place I knew.

I was at the restaurant for 3 1/2 years. Now I work two jobs as a cashier and doing maintenance in an office building. I’m making triple now for fewer hours and it’s less stressful. I support my family back home and I’m their role model. The distance is very challenging, long-term my kids are going to be better off.

I protested in front of the business where I used to work. I’ve participated in the fast food campaign. I’ve testified in front of the wage and hour board. Many of us women play the role of both mother and father, and these wages aren’t enough to support families. It’s crucial for them to raise the minimum wage, especially in NYC. It’s not a salary where you can raise a family.

The accounts above have been edited for clarity.

Sourced from


10 Things that the Fast Food industry doesnt want you to know…..

McDonald’s Grew During The Recession
McDonald’s had higher sales growth in 2008 than in 2006 or 2007, opening nearly 600 stores that year, according to Slate. The chain was able to take advantage of Americans’ recession tastes: Cheap, convenient food.

They Handle Food That Isn’t Really Food
One Reddit user claiming to be an ex-McDonald’s worker said he once left a bag of chicken nuggets out on the counter for too long and “they melted. Into a pool of liquid.” That didn’t stop him from loving the nuggets, “still delicious,” he wrote.

More than 60 percent of low-wage workers are employed by big corporations, according to a July analysis by the National Employment Law Project. And more than 90 percent of those companies were profitable last year

Fast food workers in New York City make an average of $9 per hour, according to the Village Voice. That comes to about $18,500 per year for full-time workers.

For 40 percent of private sector workers, taking a sick day and still getting paid isn’t an option, according to the Baltimore Sun. Fast food workers are especially likely to be part of that 40

Many fast food workers saw their health benefits put at risk this year, if they even had them at all. Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said he would likely reduce some of his workers hours so that he wouldn’t have to cover them in response to Obamacare. Jimmy John’s founder, Jimmy John Liautaud told Fox News in October that he would “have to” cut workers’ hours so that he wasn’t forced to cover them under Obamacare.

The average hourly pay at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Taco Bell is less than $8 an hour, according to salary data cited by CNBC.


As more workers fight for limited jobs, many older employees are gravitating towards the fast food industry. The median age of a fast food worker is 28, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited by the Atlantic. For women, who make up two-thirds of the industry’s employees, that age is 32.

Fast food worker’s went on strike in late November in New York City, showcasing a rare effort to organize the industry’s workers. Labor leaders often don’t make an effort to organize these workers because the high turnover makes the challenge daunting.

For all their work, fast food workers get very little dough. The lowest paid job category in New York City is “Combined Food Service and Preparation Workers, Including Fast Food,” according to Bureau of Labor Department Statistics cited by Salon.



Gross Things Fast Food Employees Have Done to Your Food

Grossest Things Fast Food Employees Have Done to Your Food Companies

List Criteria: Vote up the grossest fast food employee moment that makes your stomach turn even more than a supersize order of uber-greasy chilli cheese fries.

Those nutty fast food workers. One moment they’re delivering robotic customer service, and the next they’re hawking spit in your lime Slurpee. Gross, right? Thing is, if caught on film or camera, the awful actions of these bad employees are a viral goldmine. For some reason, folks just love to watch dumb kids in fast food uniforms doing really gross stuff as they compete for the worst people on the planet awards.

Let’s just admit it: Most fast food is disgusting food anyway – well, at least in the nutritional sense. When you combine low pay with low skills, it kind of makes sense that occasionally there’s gonna be a disgusting soul working among workers. Take a look at the grossest fast food employee moments.

Grossest Things Fast Food Employees Have Done to Your Food