Recently, I met a business owner who asked me why I support a $15 minimum wage. So I told him:
Fifteen years ago, I came to Braddock to help kids earn their GEDs. I told my students that if they studied and worked hard, they’d be able to escape the cycle of poverty and make it in America.
The problem is, the $7.25 minimum wage in Pennsylvania just isn’t enough to stay above water. They can work 40-plus hours a week, yet still need a substantial amount of financial assistance just to get by.
It crushes me to see the same kids I used to work with become adults with grown-up responsibilities, yet still get paid the same wages they had in high school.
One of the great exceptions is Jovan. Jovan was in the same GED program as the other kids. The difference is, Jovan got a job at Costco. He didn’t hit it big, he just landed at a company that takes care of its employees and pays them a decent wage.
Jovan is an adult now. He’s able to provide for his family and even take vacations. Jovan has shown that you don’t need three degrees to live a dignified life. You just need a living wage.
What would it do if decent, living-wage jobs like the ones at Costco were the norm, not the exception in the service sector? What if all companies paid their employees a wage you can actually live on?
When you don’t pay employees enough to take care of themselves and their families, we all end up paying for it as a society in the form of public assistance, crime, health care — you name it.
So let’s do it the right way and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.