When I started, there was no living wage in Syracuse. I had to work two jobs to pay my bills, even living at home. I made a little over minimum wage, maybe $10,000 a year. It wasn’t enough to live on, which is why I had two jobs. Now, I have insurance and make about $16,000 a year. Before the living wage, I would have had to work at least a 50 hour work week to come close to that; now I work 37.5 hours a week and have some money to spare.
I still live at home with my parents, but have been able to save money toward a new townhouse. I also now have the time and money to take some classes at a nearby college to get a degree in Criminal Justice. I really want to be a police officer, like my father, and am grateful to have money to put toward my education.
The Living Wage has been good not just for me and my co-workers, but it has been good for our employer. Airport garages are notorious for high turnover – the job is hard and the pay is low. I often saw different guys from one month to the next. But now people are thankful for the job they have, and are working to keep it.
Currently, I am on the Syracuse Living Wage Commission. I decided to sit on the Commission because I think it’s important to do what I can to make sure all employees receive a fair wage and benefits- especially when companies are benefiting from public money. I want to help lift them out of poverty and make life better, and earning a living wage does just that.