Sunday, August 16, 2015

216.7 - Hero Award: Speaking up for fast-food workers seeking a living wage

Hero Award: Speaking up for fast-food workers seeking a living wage

Now, another of our occasional features, this one being called The Hero Award, which is given out from time to time to someone who deserves recognition for having just done the right thing on a matter big or small.

I've several times brought news of the movement sometimes known as "Fight for 15" that is, for a $15 an hour minimum wage. This movement has mostly involved fast-food and other service workers, leading some voices to dismiss the call on grounds along the lines of something like "I’m a licensed electrician, I make $13/hr. Those burger flippers think they deserve more than me? Screw that.”

So we bring to the discussion the voice of Jens Rushing, an EMT in Arlington, Texas, reacting to the fact that the state of New York plans to raise the minimum wage for employees of fast-food chain restaurants to $15 an hour over the next few years. He wrote on Facebook that:
I’m a paramedic. My job requires a broad set of skills: interpersonal, medical, and technical skills, as well as the crucial skill of performing under pressure. I often make decisions on my own, in seconds, under chaotic circumstances, that impact people’s health and lives. I make $15/hr. And these burger flippers think they deserve as much as me? Good for them.
“Look," he want on, "if any job is going to take up someone’s life, it deserves a living wage. If a job exists and you have to hire someone to do it, they deserve a living wage."

Jens Rushing
"Why," he wrote, "are you angry about fast food workers making two bucks more an hour when your CEO makes four hundred TIMES what you do?"

Directing your anger at other workers who, like you, are just trying to get by, he said, is "exactly what the bosses want!" They want us fighting over who has more crumbs while they take off with "almost the whole cake." (And parenthetically, I want to note my pleasure at seeing the very useful phrase "the bosses" re-enter our vocabulary.)

Okay, so it wasn't some grand gesture, it wasn't something that echoed from the hilltops, it was just a Facebook post. But it was, absolutely, the right thing to say and at the right time. It was the right thing to do.

Doing the right thing, especially when there is no particular gain in it for you, is what makes for a hero around here. Jens Rushing, you are a hero.

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