I currently work for a high-end department store, filling online orders. I don’t have a car, so I have about a two hour commute on two buses. I get to work at 7:00 a.m., three hours before the store opens. My job is to find the items ordered online, and to ship them out.
After two years of working there I have finally qualified for a retirement and dental plan, yet I might have to reject the retirement plan because I do not earn enough, and too much money would be taken out of my paycheck.
Even though they offer a health insurance plan, it is too expensive and the company is not willing to offer a plan that is affordable to its employees.
After taking more responsibilities I asked my supervisor for a raise, telling him I was only earning $10 per hour. As I told him this he acted as though he did not believe that I earn that little.
He “promised” to ask the people on top to give me a raise.
After months of waiting and asking, I didn’t get a raise, but instead got an “Employee Who Made It Happen Award” from my boss. I knew exactly what the meaning of the award was—it was to make me feel as though the company “cared about my contribution”, so I should shut up and stop asking for a raise. To make matters worse, my boss made me come in on my day off just to get the award!
Even after earning an associate’s degree, something that is supposed to get you good pay in this country, my wages have stayed the same. The responsibilities keep piling up but the pay doesn’t change; this is what capitalism does to us workers. The bosses demand more work yet are unwilling to pay us more, not because they do not have the funds but because it is more profitable for them to pay us less.
I’m a part-time worker, yet I almost pull full-time hours, especially during the holidays. As many of us workers know, having part-timers is more profitable for the capitalists because it means less benefits for us.
After three years of going to community college I was able to transfer to Cal State Long Beach. Yet because education is so expensive under this system, I had to keep on working. After work I would have to take a three hour commute to school to attend night classes, getting home by 11:00pm. This left very little time to study and sleep as I would have to wake up early for work.
I eventually was faced with the decision to either work to make ends meet for me and my family or to go to school.
I chose to work, taking time off from school as I was unable to keep up. We’re taught this is the land of opportunities, yet our choices are so limited.
Reprinted with permission from Liberation News.