Don has seen his fair share of hard times. Lately, however, things have gotten a whole lot rougher. Sitting in his small, cramped apartment wearing a stained white T-shirt, Don conveys a feeling of quiet desperation.
In the last few months, Don has watched as his hours at work were slashed, his rent was raised, and his roommate (a former Pizza Hut employee) was fired. He is now the sole breadwinner of the household and is very close to being out on the streets.
Unable to pay his phone bill this month, as Don explains it he is worse than broke. “Being broke sounds great about now. That just means you don’t got any money. I’m twice as bad off. I’m not just broke – I owe people money. And these guys intend to get it.”
For Don, it’s obvious that things need to change and change fast. Pizza Hut seems all too happy to consign its employees to misery for the sake of greater profit, and Don feels something needs to be done about it. If it wasn’t for his now-frequent visits to the food bank, he might be facing starvation.
“This seven dollar an hour business just ain’t cuttin’ it,” he tells me. “These upper-management clowns are keen on telling us that Washington State has the second highest minimum wage in the country. We get about a buck and a half more than the rest of the other twenty million poor, broke suckers out there and they act like we ought to be doing cartwheels in the streets. Well, if the bosses think it’s such a good wage, why don’t they try living on it?”
The solution is very clear to Don. “We need a union,” he says, “and we need one now. Forming a union is about the only way we as workers can come together and fight for a decent wage. That’s just what it’s going to be, too – a fight. These guys know all too well that every dollar they got to pay us for something stupid like making sure we have enough to eat, or put a roof over our heads, is one less dollar in their Mercedes fund. And if you don’t think that’s how they operate, you’re blind and a damn fool.”