Double Booked: Between A Rock and A Hard Place
When Low Wages Just Aren’t Enough
By Kilra Hylton
For a while we’ve all seen fast food workers, airport workers, Wal-Mart employees and even college professors stand up to tell the rest of the world that working hard just isn’t enough to even get by – much less get ahead.
I don’t work at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart or the airport. I make sure that seniors and people with disabilities can stay at home with their families and communities. That’s where they want to be and where their families want them to be. I love what I do. I’m happy I can make other people’s lives better. But a lot of the time my family and I are paying the price.
I always feel caught between a rock and a hard place. With two consumers – people I care for in their homes – I bring home about $842 a month. With rent at $422 a month, plus the cost of gas and utilities, I only manage to feed my kids through the grace of God. I work hard, but my paycheck isn’t enough to cover my bills, take care of my family or pay for our healthcare. If I didn’t work at all, I would qualify for help with all of those things. What would you do?
These are the same struggles all low-wage workers are dealing with.
I work not just to support my family, but also to show my kids they can have dreams for a better life even when things are really hard. I don’t want handouts. I want opportunities to get ahead for me and my kids and my grandkids. I don’t think that’s asking for too much.
That’s why I joined my union, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. We need a steppingstone to get ahead and that is what the union is all about. Once I found out that the union is fighting for me I felt like I owed it to myself to be involved. I want home care workers like me to know we can be a part of the struggle.
But now we’re seeing that home care workers aren’t alone in this either. There are millions of working people and families all over the country and here in Massachusetts who just aren’t making it on poverty wages.
That’s why we’re all coming together to change the way things work. It’s time all working people make a living wage, have respect and a voice at whatever job they do so we can lift everyone up.
This week, on June 12th, I’ll be standing arm in arm with other home care workers, fast food workers, professors, auto workers, senior citizens, people of faith, and a whole lot of other working people in Massachusetts to let everyone know we’re in this together.
Come on down and add your voice, we’d love to have you. If you can’t be there in person, you can help by spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook.
Kilra Hylton is a single mother of six, personal care provider, and active member of 1199SEIU UHE.