High-School Bathroom Cleaner: "$15/Hr Salary Will Change Everything"

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My job is what’s called a “restricted” position — the California education code’s name for specially funded positions that can employ only people who meet certain conditions (they’re from impoverished areas or have disabilities, for example). Restricted workers have a set wage rate, which means I haven’t been able to ask for a raise, and I can’t earn overtime.

 

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"work is not the hardest part of my life. The hardest part is saying goodbye to my 4-year-old son when he asks me not to go to work again."

 

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The one thing that hasn’t been good about the job is the pay. When I started 10 years ago, I made $8.65 per hour; now I make $9.85 per hour.

 

But I just learned that’s going to change. SEIU Local 99, the union that represents me and more than 30,000 other school workers here, just negotiated a new contract that will raise my pay to $15 per hour by 2016. This is a big deal for the 20,000 of us who make the district’s lowest wages and are covered by the raises. It might be an even bigger deal around the rest of the United States, since $15 per hour is the goal of a movement in cities around the country to improve the lives of working people.

 

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I’m not exactly sure how my life will be at $15 per hour. I’ve never made that much money, and I’ve been doing custodial work since I was 15. I started out while I was still going to school myself, as a part-time custodian at St. Nicholas, a parochial school in the San Fernando Valley. Back then, in 1997, I was making $7.25 an hour. After I graduated from San Fernando High School, the parochial school offered me a permanent position, and I worked there for four years, eventually making $8.50 per hour. Later, I jumped to Van Nuys High.

 

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So a raise like this won’t just give workers more — it will give the district happier parents.

Read the rest at The Washington Post...