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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Fight for a Livable Wage!

This was posted on facebook by a friend of mine. She is a college professor and I can understand her point of view, very narrow.

“Dear Mr. / Ms. McDonald’s worker: Your industry’s business model was built upon the idea of temporary, part-time workers, NOT career employees. I cannot write this loudly enough GO TO COLLEGE. PURSUE A REAL CAREER. THERE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE A POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF THE ARCHES.”

First I would like to say Ms. College pro, $15 an hour is not a pot of gold. If you made $15 an hour you would be screaming and striking too. Maybe you are making $15 an hour to which I must ask is this the standard.

When my daughter was in high school all I heard from other parents was how much pressure they were under to send their kids to college, especially when they didn’t have an interest in going. My question all along was…

…If everyone attends college then who will be left to do the work of our economy. We have to eat, entertain ourselves and of course someone has to build the houses and offices out which we will work and live. Who will do the plumbing and electrical work? These are trades that do not require a college degree.

Before Reagan CEO’s earned 44 times more than the average worker. Today it’s 400 times.

When did 44 times more become not enough? 44 times more house, more cars, more everything.

On the same day my friend posted another note to the McDonald’s employees who think they deserve better than minimum wage.

“Dear Mr. / Ms. McDonald’s worker, me again!
Don’t you realize that if you start making $15 an hour that the price of a McSomething will skyrocket to the point that Taco Bell employees will not be able to afford to pick up dinner at your “restaurant” on the way home from work?”

My dear friend Sherry,

Really? You have friends that aren’t college educated. One friend comes to mind that spent her life in the entertainment industry. Now she is a widow struggling to do better than minimum wage. You don’t think that she deserves a livable wage? Are you really concerned for the Taco Bell workers being able to afford McDonald’s? By the way, Taco Bell employees have also been on strike for the same reason.

I’m going to tell you what I know about this “business model.” I have worked closely with corporations that rely on this model. I worked for a small marina whose owner came out of Disney and also loved this model.

Here is what I took in.

The marina owner’s would find homeless and desperate souls to work for them for less than minimum wage. They would hire say, three of them. The three of them put together did the job that one man could do by himself. These owners could never see themselves paying one man the wages of three when they could get three to work for the wages of one.

Guess what? These cheap laborers cost them money. If they weren’t crashing a boat they were suing the marina for unlawful labor practices and winning.

I recall their desperate search for a boat mechanic. The mechanics that they were going through couldn’t fix a boat motor. One of the mechanics was so bad that he lied and said that he had fixed and test driven a boat.

The owner of the boat takes the boat out with his mentally challenged son only to find that the boat began to sink. Something the mechanic would have been able to avoid by doing his job, which he was grossly underpaid to do.

One day a man walked in and asked for a job. He accepted way less money because he was desperate to feed his family.

Turned out he was an expert mechanic. The best this town has ever seen. Once he was able to show them what he was worth, he sat down with the owner to renegotiate his salary. The marina was charging $80 an hour in labor. The mechanic asked for $40 an hour.

The owners said goodbye to him and he landed a mechanic position in Naples where they are paying him $50 an hour and the marina hasn’t been able to find a reliable mechanic that can fix everything that comes their way.

So they sit on a lake where no one who lives on that lake will take their boat to them for repairs because of the terrible reputation they have for fixing boats.

I say let them strike. Let them protest. Stop making college graduates the only grain of sand on the beach. We are all in this together.

Yes a college graduate deserves more money but does that somehow suggest to you that those who didn’t get a degree deserve less than a living wage?

The problem is that this “business model” has spread into industries that used to give people like me and some of your uneducated friends a living wage. Doesn’t that have an impact on you?

Believe me when I tell you that even college graduates are having trouble finding work with a living wage. Oh yeah you must know that because your wife has a degree and she isn’t automatically getting paid more.

Why?

It is so because the “business model” has become so popular that everyone is bound to be exploited. If we don’t start to buck this system, it will take over and who wants that?

Cooking and serving burgers should not pay a livable wage? Why?

All work should pay a livable wage. If you don’t impact the employee’s life in a positive way, he won’t impact your business in a positive way.

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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Going Home

The minute I changed my mind about what I am doing right now I began to feel better. I knew that I wanted to get out and get some exercise, but I couldn’t figure out how.

Yesterday I put my mother in a wheelchair and walked her for 45 minutes. It was the best I have felt in a long time. To have every pore in my body gushing out toxins. To feel my heart pump blood into every crevice of my organs. To breathe long hard breaths. To be physically challenged for the first time in many, many months was the best high ever.

The beat goes on. I am still in the same place, doing the same thing and enduring the pressure of what must be done next.

Next is the decision to place my parents in a nursing home by July 2014. It is the very thing that I was trying to avoid. I was avoiding this step when they were able to walk. When they were somewhat active. When there seemed to be hope and of course it wasn’t as cumbersome.

Right now my stepfather lays in a bed 22 hours a day. My mother sits in a recliner all day with the exception of bathroom calls.

That means that every glass of water, every snack, every meal and every bowel movement is up to me. Every question, however insignificant is a calling of my name. This is 24 hours a day seven days a week.

You would think that placing your parents in a home when it is so hard to care for them personally could be an easy decision.

If you have ever walked through a nursing home and you think about walking your parents into a place where old, frail humans are sitting in wheelchairs and staring away as the life is leaving them. To tell your parents, “this is your new home,” to leave and wave goodbye as their eyes scream for you not to leave them there. This is the task at hand.

I realize that it is a journey for me and them. They are going home, I can’t hide that from them. I realized how fearful I am of facing that possibility myself. Walking the halls of the dying is a quick realization of the very fact that we must all return home some day.

I have some standard idea that if I were old and frail that I would automatically want to go. Now I know that isn’t necessarily true for everyone. I think that there is work to be done in order to feel so free.

This “work” I speak of is being in tune with our existence.

I’m talking about the answers that our faith is giving us. Not just the things that we say we would do if there could be trouble. I’m talking about the very things we say and do when we are smack in the middle of hell.

As I approach the most difficult task of my life to date, I pray for guidance and ask forgiveness for what I must do.

We are all on our way home. We are just on a path there.

I’m thinking about a yellow brick road.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Keep in Mind

This month marks 2 years and four months that I have been caring for my aging parents. It all started so innocently. My intention was to help them. This help began in the form of cohabiting with them so that I could see to the daily tasks that are needed to run a household. I would take over the cleaning and cooking.

My thought was that I could continue to work full time and just handle the important household details, like I did when I was a mother and wife.

It was easy at first. We hired a caregiver. With room and board she charged us $900 per month. She only lasted for two months. My stepfather was spending money like a senile maniac and was not able to maintain her salary. I continued to work but the routine was increased by having to accompany them to the doctor. They had a doctor’s appointment just about every week.

My mother had a major stroke so she had to see a neurologist and a psychiatrist for her Alzheimer’s. He had prostate cancer so he had to see a urologist every three months. They both had to see their primary care every month until I could get my mother’s numbers right. Her sugar and thyroid were out of control due to their inability to manage medications anymore. In order to manage their numbers and medication, I had to be present so the doctor could talk to someone who knew what the hell was going on.

I went from working 5 days a week to not working at all. Last February my stepfather fell and broke his hip. He hasn’t walked since. I haven’t worked since February. I haven’t slept in my bed since February. I can count on one hand the nights that I have slept eight hours straight since then. I believe that sleep deprivation is a torture method.

The loneliness is almost unbearable. I don’t entertain anymore. I don’t go anywhere except shopping for food and supplies.

There are days that I think that I will just loose my own mind. That is when I must ask myself what I was thinking.

As I break it down in my mind and separate all the components that brought me here I can see the scattered ideas that I had for everyone, including myself.

Over the years I thought that I had learned the power of intention. I could have sworn that I had been using it to bring about the outcome that I wanted.

Somewhere along the way, as my mind cluttered with the problem rather than the solution, my clear ideas became out numbered by the foggy ones.

So now as I sit here exhausted, drained and empty headed I can see at this point I have only one answer.

I have to return to the task of keeping in mind exactly what I want.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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