Fight For $15: Minimum Wage Rage
December 8, 2016
LIA: They say money can not buy happiness, but being deprived of it can sure buy misery. I want you to imagine someone who works a part time job and does not get any hours. They want to work more but can not because their schedule is so busy. Their school is taking over their life temporarily so their earnings can not fulfill their needs or wants. Who was that person you imagined? Was it yourself or perhaps someone you know? Well whoever it was, the point is you are aware of people who struggle financially. Just really sit down and put in some deep thought into all or at least most of the problems in your life. After you listed the conflicts, ask yourself “How many of these problems have to do with money?” Majority right? Now think about how many times a day you pull out your wallet to pay cash, or how many times you swipe your card. At least once a day right? The only time this does not occur is if you are not out in public and at home. You work at least 2 shifts a week because all your time is dedicated to school, either your in your class, or in the library studying, or at home working on your assignments. Hard eh? Usually people blame a day for not having enough hours but if you look at it from another perspective, these problems occur from the low wage earnings from the limited shifts one has to work. I mean think of it this way, we all come to earth the same way, leave the same way, so why not live the same way as well?
Look around at families and students who struggle financially for years or even a lifetime due to how low their income is. Life should not be about making enough money to survive, every aspect of life should be balanced in the 24 hours that a person lives in a day. This is so everyone has a social life, work life, and time for family. Students who attend post-secondary schools have so much on their plate from all the responsibility held within that stage. There are so many purchases to make when going to school in order to stay focused and on top, such as books, supplies, electronics, etc. Students starting from the age of 17 have to stress about work, and school finances but the worst part is, how can one make enough for the cost of thousands with just $11.40? Same goes to those who have families except just worse because of what needs to be provided for the whole family, and not just one person.
I’m Lia Sediqi and on today’s podcast episode, the issue of minimum wage being to low will be recognized.
Minimum wage is quite a conflict in Canada, and unfortunately does not increase enough to resolve the issue. Many people are aware of the struggle low paid earnings cause but no voices are raised when it comes to this because students and adults do not think that their opinion will make a difference. But believe it or not, there are organizations who show awareness to this conflict so that eventually the supporters increase and issue no longer exists.
One day I was walking down the halls of York University and was stopped by a student with a clipboard in her hand.
She claims “Hey how would you feel if minimum wage increased to $15?”
I said “$15?? Wow that would be great and my life would be so much easier”
She says “Well if you’re interested in supporting our Fight for $15 campaign, you could make a difference”
That made me smile so hard so I signed the clipboard and wished them the best of luck. It was crazy, I always complained about being paid too low but never raised my voice thinking it wouldn’t be heard but now a stranger tells me it really can? I was not aware that organizations such as this one even exist. But York University’s “Fight For $15” campaign helped me realize that this would be able to help those who earn minimum wage and who struggle daily due to the constant worry of not having enough money. This campaign encourages students or any other individuals to participate in supporting the increase of minimum wage. Think of how much of a benefit this would be to the families and students who struggle every single day. The goal is to make minimum wage $15, so that poverty in Canada decreases and simply life would be easier. I wanted to know if I was the only one who felt this passionate about making a difference for this issue so I asked a student who attends York University.
The first person I asked was a student named Yelda Hashimi. Yelda is a regular first year student, who strongly agrees with how much of a struggle it is to be financially unstable as a university student..
LIA: Hi Yelda how are you?
YELDA: I’m good and you?
LIA: Great thanks for asking.
LIA: So Yelda you are aware of why I asked you to come here today?
YELDA: Yes, you were concerned about minimum wage and wanted to know my opinion as well.
LIA: That’s right now may I ask you, What are your thoughts about minimum wage?
YELDA: Well I have a lot to say actually, first off can someone explain to me why the increase over the past years has not gone up by a lot? I mean come on, just a few months ago minimum wage was $11.25 and now it is $11.40? Let’s be realistic, will those 15 cents help by a lot? I know it will not make a difference for me. I’m only 18 years old and I already have debts to pay. There is OSAP, visa, and master card that have to be paid back. I work two times a week, the most three and I am at school 5 times a week. My schedule is always busy and it is also consistent. I wake up go to school, go to class, eat, washroom, then go to the library to study. after studying for a few hours I usually have a later class so I go to the next, and by the time I’m home I get exhausted. University has taken over more than half of my life and because of this my hours in one week are about 10. I get paid bi weekly so thats around $200 in one paycheque. So if I am receiving $200 every two weeks I also have to consider the fact that there will be days when I have to eat out when I don’t have any homemade food with me. Then there is also clothes when I go shopping or shoes or even accessories. I know most people tell me, don’t buy so much of things you don’t need but I don’t see what the problem is in buying something I like. What’s worse is that everything is so expensive nowadays, but I work in a high fashion store, called BCBG MaxAzria. At their workplace, I only have to wear BCBG clothes, which is very expensive. I have to buy their clothes, and a majority of my paycheque goes to that. I know I do not work enough to be making a whole amount of money but if minimum wage increased more, It would help me a lot.
LIA: Now i’m going to stop you there and ask you, how you believe it will benefit you if it increases
YELDA: I honestly think that it’ll just be a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders because everywhere I go, money is involved. I leave the house almost everyday and very rarely am I at home the whole day. If I bus, I need change, if I take the car I’m paying for gas and parking, When I get hungry I buy fast food not groceries. I constantly check my bank account to see if I have enough when I want to purchase something. You know, I have goals so in order to achieve them I have to save up for something I really want. If minimum wage increases I think it’ll be easier to pay off debts, this way it will not build up. I know I don’t work a lot because the most shifts I get in a week are about three but if minimum wage increases, I will be able to cancel a shift and focus more on school work.
LIA: So what are some challenges that you face from this wage?
YELDA: One of the challenges are that I can’t pay off my OSAP money as fast. With the minimum wage increasing, it would be one less thing I have to stress about. My mom does not work so I am basically on my own with paying off my own fees. Another challenge is what I said before, I can’t focus on my school work because I’m already working 3 days a week. If the wage increases, my stress level will become lower.
LIA: Well thank you answering my questions Yelda, it was nice hearing your opinion and telling me your situation.
After this interview I felt like many people could relate to this issue. I mean there are thousands of students in a university that struggle financially. Thousands of others who go through so much whereas others are privileged and do not have to face this. Before I listened to Yelda’s situation I completely forgot that people have different situations and some have it harder than others. Some may have one parent and younger siblings to take care of so they work more than two shifts. Some people have more than one job, or work more than 10 hours. Just imagine how big of a change this would be if minimum wage increased to $15.
I did a little bit of research on York University’s Fight for $15 organization and discovered that they were demanding on many things. They want people who receive minimum wage to have
“decent working conditions, equal pay for workers regardless of their status as students, fair scheduling and adequate hours, paid sick days, and recognizing mid-term and final examinations as a category under “personal leaves”.” (York University Fight for 15)
This was very interesting to me because If jobs actually allowed the requests of Fight for $15, life would be so much easier and less stress would occur. This would help many but the problem with some of those requests is that you have to think realistically. I personally do not believe that paid sick days are necessary because you need to look at it from a different perspective as well. A lot of people call in sick when they do not even feel sick so a lot of people would take advantage of this aspect. That would not be fair now would it. As for the rest of those requests, I completely agree because as an 18 year old employee who gets paid $11.40, that drastic change would make a big difference for me.
I did some research on minimum wage increasing in general and it was shown on a survey that
“majority of Canadians support an increase in minimum wage. The Forum Research poll conducted last week showed that 63 per cent of Canadian voters approve increasing the national wage to $15 an hour. Thirty-one per cent disapproved; six per cent didn’t know.” (Alam, thestar)
I was so surprised because many people are fed up with this issue and want to make a change. It seems as if the poverty line has not decreased by much because more than half of Canadian citizens struggle because of this issue. I think it is time for more people to support these organizations because it seems as if a lot of citizens have a problem with how much they receive. I think it is time for students and families to speak their mind and stop living life full of stress. More people need to get involved so that eventually the poverty line decreases by a lot and no one will be left to complain. If the number of supporters go up and if we do not give up on trying to accomplish this goal, we will end up satisfied and live a stress free life.
Now I want you to think back to what I said in the beginning of this podcast. That person who works a part time job and does not get enough hours, their life is focused mostly on school. When you first thought of this person there could have been a feeling of sadness and relation to your personal situation. But what if I were to tell you to imagine a student who barely works but stays financially stable? Someone who studies, works, has time for family and friends, and has no problem with their job and wage. What if I were to tell you that, that person will be you in a few years? That if you just sign up with organizations that support this issue, you will no longer have to stress. Think about all the clothes you can buy, accessories, shoes, any other wants or needs that you prefer. Think about how balanced your life would be if your earnings increased by just $4. Feels good doesn't it? So take 5 mins of your life and sign up and encourage more people so that we can change the lives of citizens and help one another. Like I said before we’re all the same so we should treat each other the same.
This concludes our episode for today, I’m Lia Sediqi and you’ve just listened to Minimum wage rage.
Alam, Hina. "Broad Support in Poll for $15 Federal Minimum Wage | Toronto Star." Thestar.com. N.p., 19 Oct. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
"$15 and Fairness." York University Graduate Students' Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.