Lisa Quinn is unemployed and expecting a daughter. “I’m really afraid,” she told U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro. “At $8.25 [per hour] how am I even going to feed her?”
Quinn joined other job-seekers at the Workforce Alliance job training center on Ella Grasso Boulevard Friday to talk to with the congresswoman about the minimum wage, which now stands at $8.25 an hour in Connecticut.
Quinn expressed concerns about finding a job after she has her child, a job that will allow her to support her family. Her story, and others like it, became prime exhibits in DeLauro’s argument for raising the minimum wage and restoring recently diminished parts of the social safety net.
DeLauro (pictured) has signed on to several bills that would raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, today’s minimum wage is lower than it was in 1956.
Opponents of a minimum-wage increase say that it would harm the economy by increasing expenses for employers and lead to fewer new jobs being created.
DeLauro sought to dismantle those arguments Friday morning. Wearing black leather pants and a green leather jacket, DeLauro sat with about eight Workforce Alliance program participants.
Raising the minimum wage would create new jobs, DeLauro said. It’s the current minimum wage that’s bad for business, because workers don’t earn enough money to go out and shop, she argued.
As people in the room shared their stories, they revealed the wide range of difficulties that unemployed and low-wage workers can face—incarceration, lack of transportation, pregnancy, health problems—each of which compounds on the others, often leading to lives that skirt the edge of homelessness.
Elizabeth Carrillo, who’s 22, said she earned $8.25 an hour while working at Dunkin Donuts in 2011. She was able to get by because she lived with her mom. Then she had a child and had to stop working. She said she’s looking for a job now and doesn’t see how she can afford rent, heat, electricity, and childcare.
Quinn, who’s 37, said she’s eight months pregnant and facing the same questions. She said her mom has offered to help with childcare, but what if her mom gets sick?
Carrillo brought up the recent cut to food stamps, which has affected her and her mom.
“The dots need to get connected here,” said DeLauro. The combination of cuts to safety net programs and a stagnant minimum wage pinches families tighter and tighter. DeLauro said a current Senate bill would cut foodstamps further for people who are also getting heating assistance.
Bill Villano, head of Workforce Alliance, piped in with some statistics: One in five jobs lost during the economic downturn paid less that $15 per hour. But three in five jobs recovered pay less than $15 per hour. People returning to work are settling for lower paying jobs than they had before the recession.
“People will take what they can get,” said DeLauro.
Sometimes they can’t get anything. Stephanie Perez, who’s 37, said she’s been unemployed since 2006. She said she got tangled in a credit card fraud crime that sent her to prison. With that on her record, no one will hire her, she said.
Perez said she and her husband are both unemployed and she has a 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter. They participate in a variety of assistance programs and still can’t make ends meet, she said.
“I can’t even give my 2-year-old a Christmas gift this year,” Perez said, bursting into tears.
DeLaura gave her hug. “You’re a great mom,” she said to Perez.
“I can’t promise you anything,” DeLauro said, as the conversation wrapped up. “I will work as hard as I can” to raise the minimum wage. “We’re going to push and push and push.”
DeLauro later said that the bill’s chances are slim, under the current Republican leadership. “In the House it can’t go anywhere. The Republicans are not going to bring it up.”
posted by: OhHum on December 20, 2013 6:09pm
DeLauro wearing thousands of dollars worth of clothing and jewelery was hugging the down trodden and feeling their pain, blaming the other side of the aisle for not advancing a bill for higher minimum wage. What bill has DeLauro written in the past several years? Rosa, perhaps the problem is not another couple of bucks an hour, but rather, the lack of training for people that need skills to earn a better living. Give them an education and the money will follow. Working at McD will always bring in the minimum and I’m sure the agenda of the left in not to keep their base exactly where they are today, or is it? Just hang that jewelry a little bit further in front of their noses and keep them hungry for HOPE and CHANGE. BTW the right is no better, different words, same results. Politics is about the paycheck and the perks (far from minimum wage) and almost nothing else.
posted by: DingDong on December 20, 2013 7:42pm
@Ohhum. If, as you say, “Working at McD will always bring in the minimum,” isn’t that a good reason to raise the minimum wage?
There will always be people working at McD and you seem to agree they aren’t getting paid enough. You also seem to agree that the only way those jobs will be better compensated is if Congress (or the General Assembly) raises the minimum wage.
“’The dots need to get connected here,’ said DeLauro.” Unfortunately, DeLauro is unwilling to connect the CORRECT dots. Thus, she dare not mention that 41% of all children born in the U.S. in 2010 were born outside of marriage; that most of these births occurred to women with a high school degree or less; that it is this precipitous decline of the family—the institution that has been the foundation of human society for millennia—that is primarily responsible for the decline in skilled labor which results in declining wages. So, rather than promote a return to societal basics, DeLauro proposes her statist solution. In “DeLauro Land” the government must intervene in every aspect of life in order to save us from our very selves.
“Stephanie Perez… said she got tangled in a credit card fraud crime that sent her to prison.” Note the passive tense here: “got tangled in a credit card fraud crime” rather than “tangled herself” or the more direct “committed credit card fraud”. Of course, this is because in “DeLauro Land” there is no such thing as personal responsibility. Everyone is the passive recipient of bad fortune. Thus Rosa DeLauro, with her statist solutions, must step in to turn the tide back in our favor.
Also note DeLauro’s confused, misleading message. We are told that raising the minimum wage means the very difference between homelessness versus being able to pay for rent, heat, electricity, and childcare. Yet a mere increase of $1.85 also will magically create even MORE jobs—because this small increase will allow workers to “earn enough money to go out and shop”. For high-end leather pants and jackets, perhaps? No matter; DeLauro’s message doesn’t HAVE to be consistent or otherwise make any sense whatsoever. It’s those politically-correct, vote-winning talking points that are important. And keeping DeLauro in office forever is what TRULY will save us and our economy—by allowing HER to “go out and shop”. For a better-coordinated leather outfit, I hope.
posted by: cp06 on December 20, 2013 10:50pm
Why does what she was wearing matter? Yes, its probably very expensive clothing, but if that’s what you are getting at then please say it OR hold wealthy male politicians to the same standard. While boring their suits are probably also very expensive.
posted by: robn on December 21, 2013 9:47am
Family planning is also an issue here. The Republicans resist, the Dems swing minimal funding but in the end, when it’s election time politicians cave to the church’s’ unrestrained procreation message. This doesn’t negate the need to raise minimum wage but it is germane. People shouldn’t have kids if they’re struggling to support themselves.
posted by: HewNaven on December 21, 2013 11:28am
Don’t expect anything to change here. The minimum wage may rise, but prices will also continue to rise, and dollars will continue to be printed so that your pile will be less and less valuable and you’ll need to work more and more. This is such an old formula, but none seem to recognize the simple pattern. The wealthy will always require a sizable underclass to serve them, and that’s the only way for them to remain rich. They won’t give that up! If they gave up the existing paradigm, they couldn’t afford to consolidate property, and purchase expensive clothes, jewelry, etc. and thus would be unable to physically distinguish themselves from the underclass. Most recently in history, the rich have come to rely on low-wage workers to replace the slave labor that was outlawed after popular moral outrage in the 19th Century. These are the “new” slaves.
So where are the dissidents of today fighting to abolish low-wage work?? What is our contemporary form of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin used to spur the political class to action?” Who is our Frederick Douglas, or dare I say, our Nat Turner?
posted by: robn on December 23, 2013 8:33am
That would be Marx. No thanks.
The capitalist concept of inflation is intended to prevent hoarding and stimulate spending and job creation (otherwise ones “pile” as you put it, becomes less and less valuable with time).
Meanwhile; the preindustrial life expectancy was 30 and now it’s 70. 100 years ago humans went out doors to defecate and now we have indoor plumbing. 20 years ago we generally waited a day to hear news of what’s going on in the world and now we have mostly whatever information we need instantly. Things have gotten better.
posted by: robn on December 23, 2013 2:35pm
I didn’t say things couldn’t get better. I just said things have gotten a lot better in recent centuries which you cast a shadow upon.
And to be clear, the scale of “hoarding” that I mentioned was more abstractly related to ones own person wealth which declines if left static and is generally considered to be unproductive. I, like you, am quite frustrated with very extreme concentrations of wealth, but not as much about the extremity as about the unproductiveness. Hoarded wealth at any level of the wealth spectrum isn’t put to good use, but the abandonment of that aspect of Fordism which compensates workers enough to consume their own goods means an ever more gradually stagnating economy.
posted by: CommonSense on December 24, 2013 12:21am
Alright…I must’ve missed something here,
“...they revealed the wide range of difficulties that unemployed and low-wage workers can face—incarceration, lack of transportation, pregnancy, health problems…”
I don’t want to sound insensitive here, but if you’re working a “low-wage” job…shouldn’t you hold off on getting pregnant??? My wife and I waited until we were in our late 20s to even think about starting a family. We wanted to ensure our financial stability.
Ms. Perez and her husband are admittedly participating in a “variety of assistance programs.” What else do they want??? I would love to have a robust economy that is desperate for highly skilled workers, but that’s not the case right now. You’ve got to get out there and pound the pavement. If you don’t have a job, then your job is finding a job.
“Raising the minimum wage would create jobs,” Rep. DeLauro said. Then, in typical DeLauro fashion she offers no actual definition as to how that would work. Just empty rhetoric. If Rep. DeLauro thinks that personal economic woes will be solved by raising minimum wage, then she is clearly not informed on how the free market economy works.