Rabbi Laurie Coskey of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice will be with us to talk about what the Fight 4 $15 and raising the minimum wage means to real people living in our region.
She’ll be joined by clubmember Steve Rivera and workers and organizers from the Fight for $15.
In just 3 years what was started by 200 Fast Food workers has become an international Fight 4 $15 movement that connects generations of workers, cuts through borders, unites workers from over a dozen industries. We will have the chance to speak with workers and learn about this and other campaigns in San Diego that are seeking to win better wages, benefits, a voice on the job and a step out of poverty. We will discuss how the Point Loma Democratic Club can participate in passing the minimum wage ordinance and get more involved in exciting campaigns for economic sustainability.
Here are two examples of how much this issue means to our community, the names have been changed and these are different stories from the ones we will hear on Sunday.
My name is Jay and I’m a 21 year old McDonald’s employee. I was born here in San Diego, but was raised in Iowa. I came back to San Diego a little over a year ago to try and make a life for myself and I have been working at McDonalds since then.
Working at McDonalds, my responsibilities include welcoming, taking orders, cashiering, working the lobby, café, and being a fry cook. I enjoy taking on different tasks; it keeps things interesting. Most of all, I love my customers. They are my favorite part of my job and some of them I now consider friends. However, working conditions at McDonalds are not ideal.
I never know what to expect when I come in to work. I have felt belittled and degraded by my manager at work. Although I am not the maintenance worker, I am sometimes asked to take on those responsibilities; for example, cleaning graffiti and cleaning toilets. My hours are continually being cut and my seniority is not respected, as I am usually the first one to be sent home early.
It’s been extremely difficult trying to make ends meet on what I make at McDonalds. Since being in San Diego, I’ve slept on at least 30 different couches while trying to find an affordable housing situation and I’ve been scraping by every month with the little that I have to live off of. What I want most right now is to be able to go to school, but I can’t afford that now.
Although work conditions aren’t the best, I am desperate for the money. At $9 an hour, my average income is about $600 a month, which is barely enough to pay for my monthly costs. I can’t afford a bus pass, so I walk 40 minutes to and from work if I can’t get a ride. Last year, I qualified for health insurance, but after I turned 21, I was no longer qualified. I need to go to the doctor, but I don’t have to money to go.
I am a part of the Fight for $15, because I want to stand up for what I know is right and I want to be able to help do that for others who haven’t found their voices yet. At the last Fight for $15 protest, I was arrested for civil disobedience as I stood for what I believed in. It was a very empowering experience.
Working fast food is hard and there are many expectations. I face so many more difficulties at work than people think. Despite the difficulties I encounter at work, I am proud to be a McDonald’s employee and proud of the service I provide. With my wage raised to $15 an hour, I would finally be able to escape from this downward financial spiral I have been in for too long. I would be able to buy a bus pass, start school, start to pay back my hospital bills, and actually be able to start saving my money! With a union, I would feel supported and I would have a stronger voice. If we work together, I stand by what I chanted as I was arrested for civil disobedience: “I believe that we can win!”
My faith is of great importance to me and I know that God will get me through this hard time. I know that God has my back and that God will bless me when the time is right.
My name is Daniela and I work at a local fast food restaurant. As a cook, I make minimum wage, which just isn’t enough to provide for my family. Housing in San Diego is so expensive. My husband, four daughters, and myself all live with my father in his home…along with six other family members. Twelve people in a three bedroom/two bathroom house is difficult, but we make it work. I would love to have a home just for ourselves but we can’t afford it.
I used to look down on fast food work. I thought people that worked fast food were all uneducated and unsuccessful. Shortly after having my fourth daughter I started to look for work. I never imagined it would take me three years to find employment. I took the job at a fast food restaurant as a cook because that was all I could find. And I don’t just cook, I also wash dishes, sweep, mop, and clean the bathrooms and parking lot.
I’m embarrassed to tell people where I work because I feel they look down on me, as if the work I do is not important – just what I used to think. I now know the perceptions I used to have of fast food jobs are not true.
I only make $9.00 an hour and I almost never work a full 20 hours a week. After taxes I earn about $460 a month. My husband is undocumented. He works full time, often working overtime, and only makes $800 a month. $1,260 a month is not enough to provide for our family. I’m ashamed to say we rely on state assistance – we have no other choice, that’s how we cover our portion of the rent. And even with state assistance, we still fall short every two weeks.
My father helps us with as much as he can. He buys the things we need and can’t afford like shampoo, toilet paper, and toothpaste; he even helps me with my monthly car payment. We have no money to buy clothes or shoes for myself or my husband but we make do with what we have. What really breaks my heart is seeing my daughters grow out of their socks and not being able to buy them bigger sizes. For our family, any wage increase would make a difference. That’s why I supported the Minimum Wage Ordinance that the San Diego City Council passed.
With a little extra money I could afford to buy food for my family. Today, as I was writing down this story I received a call from my husband that brought me relief. This morning I told my husband that we didn’t have any more food at home. Tomorrow is our payday but we had no more money today and I didn’t know what I was going to feed my girls for dinner. My husband called to let me know that he had borrowed some money so we would have food for tonight. In one way I feel relieved to know we will eat, but it also makes me so sad to realize how terrible our situation is.
I know God is always here for me. I believe there is a reason I am working at a fast food restaurant.
All I want is for my daughters to have a good education so they can have good careers. And what my heart really wants is for my girls to be proud of me. I have started to speak out about the need for an increase in the minimum wage and I even went out on strike this last May for the right to have a union. I don’t believe I, or anyone else, should have to worry about not having food for dinner, or choosing between making a car payment and buying groceries. Workers deserve better than the current minimum wage. I’m proud to have shared my personal struggles to win the Minimum Wage Ordinance. But now I hear that there are people who want to get rid of it. They are starting to collect signatures for a petition. If someone asks you to sign the petition – don’t sign it! Workers like me need it!
Rabbi Laurie Coskey is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice. The ICWJ represents clergy, churches, mosques, synagogues, faith and justice organizations, and people of faith around San Diego who, called by their respective religious traditions, work for justice and stand up for the poor and marginalized. In partnership with low-wage workers, ICWJ brings visibility to the struggle of hard working individuals and working families trying to make ends meet in San Diego County through campaigns in the workplace, with policy makers, and around critical issues such as living wage policies, immigration and affordable housing. Rabbi Laurie also led the reflection for IWJ national’s action at 2011 National Conference in Chicago.
Rabbi Laurie Coskey’s almost 30 year career as a rabbi has been marked by a commitment to issues of social justice. Since 2001, Rabbi Laurie has served as the Executive Director of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice lifting up the issues of working families through activism and advocacy. As one of only four San Diegans, Rabbi Laurie gave a Tedx San Diego talk in November 2014 titled “Holy Chutzpah and Foot Washing”. She is the Vice-Chair of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors and Rabbi in Residence at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. Rabbi Laurie completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University, was ordained at Hebrew Union College, and earned her doctorate in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego.
Changing the future for workers and their families!
We’ll also be discussing and voting on our new endorsement process and questionnaire, details of which can be found here. Copies were distributed at our July 26 meeting and have been online since then, and by mail to our paper newsletter subscribers. If you’ve discovered any errors or omissions please let us know by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or at the monthly meeting.
Members are encouraged to get together from 3:30PM before the meeting starts, please bring whatever light drinks/snacks that you’d like to share.