Transcript: Chicago fast-food worker Amie Crawford’s press briefing remarks on the Fair Minimum Wage Act – March 3, 2014

Partial transcript of press conference remarks by Amie Crawford, a Chicago fast-food worker, on the introduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 to raise the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016. The press conference was held on March 3, 2014:

My name is Amie Crawford, and I’m here today to share my story about life on minimum wage.

I never thought I would be a minimum wage worker. I’m 56-years-old. I worked as a designer for over 30 years. I had health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, and a retirement plan. I lived a comfortable middle-class life and I saved money so I can have a secure retirement.

14 months ago I relocated to Chicago for family reasons. I never had trouble finding a job in the past so I felt confident I’d be able to find a new job in Chicago.

I treated finding a job as a full-time job. I did everything you were supposed to do and it didn’t work.

I was debt-free and had savings to fall back on, but I grew anxious as time went by with no job prospects.

I took a job temporarily in a quick service restaurant. It was just something to bring money in while I continued my job search.

I used to think that minimum wage jobs were “other” people. People who worked where I stopped to get doughnuts or burgers. They weren’t me. They had less education, fewer skills. They didn’t work as hard as I had or try as hard. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I was hired at $8.25 an hour – the state minimum wage. It’s $1 more than the federal minimum wage but not nearly enough to live on especially in Chicago’s high cost of living.

I received a $1.50 raise and that may be my only raise. There’s almost no opportunity to move up to a management position.

I was hired for a full-time job but I usually get far less than 40 hours. I only had 28 hours last week. My take home pay for February was $788.

I work in the Magnificent Mile. It’s a high-end shopping district that brings in billions of dollars a year. Yet a lot of its workers are paid at or slightly above minimum wage. Our employers can afford to give us a raise.

We work hard. The work we do is physically and emotionally demanding but that’s not the hardest part.

The hardest part is worrying about money. We worry about paying the rent, having enough food, buying clothes for our kids. Some of us are homeless. Others work two or more jobs.

You know, after going to school to earn a degree and working in profession for three decades, I never thought I’d find myself here.

The truth is that in today’s economy, anyone can wind up in a minimum wage job.

Like me, many minimum wage workers have fallen out of middle class jobs and can’t get up.

Minimum wage needs to be higher so everyone willing to work can have a roof over their heads, can have food on the table, can take care of their families and can hope someday even to be able to retire.


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