Life isn’t fair

My mother works in a supermarket making little more than minimum wage. I went in yesterday to pick up something for dinner and she looked completely worn out with her usually upswept hair beginning to fall into curly wisps around her ears and neck. She told me how tired she was and how hard she had worked all day. Her coworkers seemed just as tired and all were glad that it was nearing time to close the store.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom and I do not enjoy seeing her in the workplace. Since she is divorced from my father and I’m the only son, I can’t help but get the feeling that I am somehow supposed to be her protector. I assume that is pretty natural and instinctive for humans, but it makes it difficult for me to watch her working herself to a frazzle.

The thing is, my mother doesn’t even have to work. She has enough money to live pretty comfortably without a job, but she actually seems to enjoy the opportunity to get out of the house. I understand that completely, as I’ve spent plenty of time “cooped up” over the last few months from mono and having my appendix removed. Four walls don’t provide enough stimuli.

I guess the thing that bothers me the most about my mother working is the fact that she works so hard for so little pay, while I make a good salary sitting on my hind-end most days. It’s understandable that these retail chains don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money to a cashier or stock boy, especially since most of those are going to be young and inexperienced with no intentions of making a career out of their position. However, my mother isn’t that young anymore and I really wish she had a more comfortable, cushy job that didn’t require that amount of physical exertion.

This country doesn’t value people that are in retail positions as much as we should. They normally make somewhere around minimum wage with little or no benefits, while providing services that we couldn’t live without. I’m heartened that the Democrats have finally pushed through legislation to raise their wages and hope that universal healthcare will become a reality during the term of the next president.

Lord, let the world be changed, for I long to see the end of poverty.
Lord, let the rules be changed for I long to see all jobs pay a wage that enables a life of dignity and sufficiency.
Lord, let the rules be changed, for I long to see justice for the poor.
Lord, let my life be changed, for I long to bring hope where good news is needed.
In the strength of your Spirit and inspired by your compassion, I make this promise –
I will work for change, and wait confidently for the day when You make all things new. Amen.

The Trade Pledge Prayer © Peter Graystone/Christian Aid.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 11 years and three fabulous felines.

10 thoughts on “Life isn’t fair”

  1. Brian,
    I was so upset when Mel put your mom down for this Sun, which is normally mine, but because I am on VC she gave it to D. It is one of our busiest Sunday’s and usually D. get’s the slowest. Last night I passed by and saw that she was still there and was angered even more, I really wanted to call Mel up and yell at her!!!! I told my mom that that was pretty sorry of Mel to do that to D!
    It is ridiculous how anyone of us are treated in any minimum wage job!!! I am alittle better off than the avg. because I am asst., however, the mgr. makes 2 times more than me, and D and I do 2 times more work than she does!!! Up until a couple of weeks ago I was making the schedule and would make sure D, had only the best people, but because I told the truth when asked and didn’t cover for Mel, Mel took it over. She also changed up my schedule and gives your mom people that she has to babysit more and therefore more to worry about.

    On a different note, the new wage increase only helps those who are “newbies”, it doesn’t help those like your mom who have been there for over a yr or more.

    I don’t think that I could survive working there if your mom wasn’t there! She is like “sunshine” and one of my dearest friends!

  2. stilldreaming,

    So, the people that are hired after Mom will be making more than her in a few years? That doesn’t make much sense. If they bump the lowest wages, you’d think it would have an effect on the other workers, as well.

  3. sorry that is how it works…
    once when I was working at Wal-Mart when a new pay raise went into effect, the people who had work there less than 18 months got a new pay increase and it bought some of them up to were I was and I had been there 3 yrs!
    I don’t understand all the reasonings, but…that is how it works.
    On the plus side, at least someone like your mother could quit and make a few cents less or start the “same” than she makes now and it not hurt so much.

    Here is also another issue that REALLY makes me upset. MOST women get paid less than a man. I have seen this at my own workplace, but know that it is just not one companies problem. It is a national issue that NEEDS to be addressed!
    I have been told I am in-line to get my own store, but they hired a man about 6 months ago and is training him to be a mgr. He got a raise recently. The supervisor said that the MAN had a family that he needed to support!!! He is married with 2 or 3 kids. The man now makes more than me(who has been there for 18 months.) I am a divorce mother of 3. Could “you” please tell me the difference? Recently I was told that the next store that came open would be between him and me. I have no doubt he will get it. Part of me doesn’t care, yet part of me thinks this whole thing is extremely sexist and stinks!!!!
    I am so sick of the whole deal with the last couple of weeks that I am looking for a new job. But starting a new job is never easy… and like I said, that issue is a national problem.

  4. Stilldreaming,

    Was the pay raise you are referring to at WM a federally-mandated minimum wage increase or just a pay raise for WM employees? That would make a difference.

    It is my understanding from talking to coworkers this morning that a federal minimum wage increase affects all documented workers below that level, with a few exceptions. I am in the process of doing some research online to find out the facts.

    If your place of business has the policy that you describe, then I think the workers that aren’t increased may have grounds for a legal complaint or a lawsuit. Personally, if that happened to me, I would pursue legal options and find a different job.

    You are right about the workplace being very sexist and it hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years. There is no vocal women’s movement anymore, which is sad. There are no more Gloria Steinem’s. Can you name one well-known women’s rights activist that is making a difference?

    Women need to organize because they are losing their rights at a fast pace from choices about their bodies to equality in the workplace.

  5. Someone I know that worked in the childcare industry was due a raise from her minimum wage salary about the time the minimum wage was increased from 4.25 to 4.75. The owners of the buisness told her that the increase counted as her raise, eventhough all new hires would be making the same as her.

  6. Okay… here’s what I’ve found. Here’s a link to an official government document dealing with the changes.

    http://www.hrdocs.com/Posters/MinWageGuide.pdf

    Basically, a state can set a different minimum wage than the federal government. The employer has to pay whichever is higher, with only a few exceptions. That means that the chain my mother works for will be required to meet the following standards:

    $5.85 per hour, effective July 24th 2007
    $6.55 per hour, effective July 24th 2008
    $7.25 per hour, effective July 24th 2009

    It is required by law that this information be posted in businesses or they can face stiff penalties.

  7. Of course, they will have to raise all the salaries to the Federal level, and HOPEFULLY it will help ALOT more people than it will hurt, but it is more like Alyson example
    “…the minimum wage was increased from 4.25 to 4.75. The owners of the buisness told her that the increase counted as her raise, eventhough all new hires would be making the same as her.”

    She will get a “raise”, but all newbies will be paid the same as she. Basically all those years you worked before, doesn’t really count on a pay scale, now if you had a job with some good benefits, then it would all equal out…sort of. It is hard for me to explain.

    Like me, I get $8.75 an hour. Our new employees get $5.15. I make $3.60 more. I have a heck of alot more responsibilities then them. Yet when they get that new pay increase, I will just get my annual raise, which I got .50 last time. So, based on that, in 2009 I will be making $9.75. The average worker will make that $7.25. Do you see what I am saying?
    That’s how it works.
    Overall, mine doesn’t look to bad, I am still making $2.50 more than the others, but your mom makes less than me so…

    That is why is pays to go to college!!! Don’t get stuck in one of this deadend jobs. I do have some college, but…oneday when I grow up, I will finish!!!!

  8. “You are right about the workplace being very sexist and it hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years. There is no vocal women’s movement anymore, which is sad. There are no more Gloria Steinem’s. Can you name one well-known women’s rights activist that is making a difference?

    Women need to organize because they are losing their rights at a fast pace from choices about their bodies to equality in the workplace.”

    I have no idea who Gloria Steinem’s is. As for any well-known activist, none either.

    Hey, here’s any idea for any President-hopefully: you want woman to vote for you, take up the Cause! I bet ALOT of woman would VOTE for you just because of that!!!

    *Hiliary, she won’t do it, it would be political suicide for her!
    *Maybe somebody could suggest it to the Ron Paul campaign.

  9. So sorry to hear this! So often it is us “little people” that have all the info on the company, people, and real stuff going on. So I’ll always be nice to receptionists, janitors, and grocery store checkers!

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