Living Wage

By Shonntay Butler

What is this thing that they call the living wage, when families can barely maintain?

Mothers become single while fathers keep leaving trails of despair; forcing mothers to lose their mental frame!

Lost sleep over little feet’s…

Lack of memory due to the fact they have to eat.

Seconds become minutes; minutes become hours; hours become days of lost time without sleep!

Losing Public Assistance and the decrease in Food Stamps causes my bills to add up!

With rent, electric and needing more eats; combination of clothing and basic needs I’m staring at defeat!

You expect so much when there is nothing to give… Then wonder why people continue to have kids!

Some say it’s easier to over populate and live off the system, than it is to fill out a simple job application.

How could they make it on their own? The system seems to be forcing people to give up!

“Damed if you do OR be Damned if you don’t!”

How is this helping a single mother on Public Assistance with four kids? So again, I ask what is this thing they call “living wage”!

They say dream of a better future! Mine’s include a better job, better house, and better car!

They say strive until I meet that destination but lack of child supervision continues to cause roadblocks!

I’m tired of flipping the same burgers I flipped yesterday; feeling underpaid and underappreciated! Working every day and still can’t afford to pay my rent! It’s time I consider full time assistance from the government! All four kids will have something to eat but mentally I’ve accepted defeat!

Lost feelings like I’m stuck in a maze; back breaking decisions which ultimately affects children for days! I heard this saying “it takes a village to raise kids” why does it feel like my village is against me? Is this a set-up or test of my humility?

Reprinted with permission from the Tompkins County Workers’ Center.

The Tompkins County Workers’ Center is a non-profit labor rights organization in Tompkins County, New York. Following its mission “to stand up with all people treated unfairly at work,” its efforts are dedicated to movement-building among and empowerment of workers through direct action, organizing, workers’ rights and safety education, facilitating enforcement of labor protections, and Living Wage advocacy. This piece was part of the Workers’ Center’s 2016 Living Wage Visioning Contest, which invited people to share original creative works about how their lives or the lives of their families would change if they made a Living Wage.

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