Johnson: Taking a stand for a raise

Nathaniel Johnson

I’m a 27-year-old McDonald’s employee of 10 years. I work hard and faithfully, making only $8.25 an hour. While McDonald’s had a publicity stunt last week about a pay hike, the majority of workers like me won’t get a raise, so we have to continue the fight for higher wages.

I live in Detroit, where the cost of utilities is 8 percent higher than the national average. Automobile insurance rates in my area are among the highest in the country. The typical price to rent a home or apartment is $820, and that’s on the low end. For anyone interested in safe, quality living standards, the amount is much more. Let’s not even get into family, food, education, and other unavoidable costs.

As it stands, my salary isn’t enough to survive on, not to mention live on, which is why I will be at center stage today, and support the rally to demand higher pay. My situation is not unique. There are child care workers, home health care workers, students and retail workers across the country who share my story, and in some cases, the experiences are more extreme.

If you’re trying to raise children, care for aging and ill parents, and tackle any number of life’s curve balls while receiving low pay from a billion-dollar, thriving business, you should lend your power to the collective fight. We know that the results come when we show our strength through numbers.

Wednesday’s mobilization is about standing against greed to level the field so that everyone involved in a company’s progress is justly compensated. We all deserve a living wage.

This is a historic fight that connects us to workers from all walks of life. It’s much bigger than McDonald’s employees. Other workers such as professors, home care workers, airport staff and Wal-Mart employees will also take a stand for their own pay increases in more than 200 cities across the country.

I am fed up, and when I read or hear about other people’s stories that tell me it’s time for stronger action on our part. Whether you live in Detroit, Miami or Los Angeles, or work behind a cash register, in a classroom, or at a patient’s bedside, your earnings shouldn’t put you on food stamps or poverty.

April 15 is the time for all of us to demand change. Collectively, we must join the fight for 15.

Nathaniel Johnson is involved with the D15 campaign, a coalition-led effort to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to have the right to form a union without interference.