Billy Villa, Custodian
Boulder [Colorado] prides itself on being a diverse, tight-knit community. But many of us who work here feel marginalized and excluded from this experience.
I’m talking about those of us who work for large employers but are making meager wages. I’ve been a custodian at University of Colorado Boulder for about 2 years now, yet I cannot afford to live in the city I work in. I commute at least an hour a day because the rents in Boulder are just too high.
I’m almost sixty and I have to live with my brother and his wife, because I cannot afford to live on my own. Each month, I am just one paycheck away from being broke. That’s why I’ve been looking for a second job to help me pay my bills.People think that working for the state you get a good wage and great benefits, but that’s not true. I’m one of the nearly 3000 state workers who make less than a living wage and struggle to make ends meet.
Each month, I volunteer at a food bank. Sometimes when we have extra food I bring it in to share with my coworkers here at CU. Sometimes it’s a bag of peppers, other times it’s potatoes or pasta. The bag is always gone by the end of the day, because people I work with need help to feed their families.
Right now, we’re asking the University to take care of all its employees by paying us a living wage of $15/hour. There are many custodians, groundskeepers and student workers who need this help. CU Boulder is a leader among universities and I believe it can set the standard for Colorado by raising its minimum wage to $15/hour.
Reprinted with permission from Colorado State Employees Fight for $15.