Ive never voted in my states primary, because Ive never seen the point. But now real change seems possible
Ive lived my whole life in New Hampshire, a nation where politicians fly in and spend millions of dollars on each election cycle. But despite being charmed and courted by every presidential nominee, Ive never voted before in my life.
I never watched the value. I never heard a legislator speak to the issues that would change my life, or that of my children, lives for the better.
But this year, thats changing. On Tuesday, Ill be voting for the first time in the New Hampshire primary. And just days before then, Ill be taking another big step I will be going on strike for the first time with other fast-food employees in all regions of the country.
Its no coincidence that Im doing both things for the first time this year: after working in the fast-food industry for a decade, my pay stuck between $7.25 and$ 8 an hour, I finally believe that by speaking out, its possible to make a difference both at my job and at the polls.
I believe this because legislators are starting to hear employees sobs for $15 an hour and union rights, and theyre use their power to change our lives. As the Fight for $15 has swept the country, Ive been inspired by how other fast-food employees have spoken out and won real change.
Just an hour away in Boston, fast-food and other underpaid employees have been striking for $15 and union rights. And in just a short period of time, theyve won amazing changes.
Boston-area hospitals like Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital have raised pay to $15 per hour in recent months. In July, home care workers across Massachusetts won an unprecedented statewide $15 -per-hour minimum wage through a contract negotiated with Governor Charlie Baker. And in January, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called for creating the citys minimum wage to $15 during his State of the City address in January.
The fight has also been successful for New Yorks fast-food workers. But the victory merely came after thousands of fast-food employees went on ten-strike for better jobs and better lives.
These changes need to happen in New Hampshire too. After all these years I havent assured more than a 75 -cent pay create. On the$ 8 hourly wage I make at KFC, I try to support my three children, who are four, two and 10 months old. That small salary goes towards rent, food, nappies, a babysitter and endless jackets, shoes and gasps to just maintain my children clothed during their endless growth spurts.
My hours and changes are so erratic that I never know what my take-home pay will be. Some weeks I run 40 hours, but other weeks I only get 17. I dont have a situated schedule; Im at KFC whenever they need me. That entails I may work until 1am to close a store, merely to return early in the morning to open it. There are days when the only moment I insure my children is while they are asleep.
And Im not alone. Nearly half of all workers in New Hampshire are paid less than $15 an hour today.
Before the Fight for $15, I felt that no one listened to workers like me. As far as I was concerned, there was a president and a vice president. I didnt have the luxury of time to sit down and read about candidates, and candidly I didnt care who was on what side of the aisle.
Every four years, legislators flock to my hometown trying to win over undecided voters like me. This year, Ill make it simple: tell me that you hear my struggle to provide for my children. Tell me that you are committed to changing my future and the future of their own families. If you can do that, I might just cast a vote in your name.
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