What Happens When You Start Earning a Living Wage

Resorts WorldGothamist has really terrific profiles of five of the 1,400 workers at Resorts World Casino who saw their pay double from $10-$12/hour to $20 or more, plus benefits after their union struck a new contract deal for them. Here’s Jeannine Nixon, who works at the casino as a customer relations representative:

A lot has changed now with me being in Local 6. I’m able to see all the specialists and in particular have a major surgery that was long overdue. I was having trouble eating and drinking, and they diagnosed me with achalasia. They told me that they needed to repair my esophagus and after that I’d be able to eat and drink properly, but then I was told I needed esophagectomy. Now I have better coverage and a thoracic surgeon from Cornell—one of the best—they went in and looked and that’s what I’m facing now. But with the contract, I don’t have to go pay those high co-payments. I count it as a blessing that I receive the service that I am receiving now. And if I didn’t make what I make now, I probably wouldn’t be following up with my medical care.

I raise my son by myself. He’s five. Now I’m able to put him in different programs, when before there were no programs available to him. He starts private school in August. I’m grateful for the [wage] increase, it is really important. Now I can afford to pay my bills, I can afford to pay my rent. I don’t need to borrow or need additional resources to do that.

To be honest with you, at the end of the day, I have pride knowing that I can pay my own bills. It’d be nice to get some resources from my son’s father, but that was my decision to raise him. Now I’m able to pay my bills and know that I don’t have to look anywhere else. It’s an overwhelming feeling, and I still pinch myself and ask, “Is this really happening?” I get two paychecks a week. It’s like, you get a paycheck, and then you get another one! [Laughs]

The rest of the stories are also wonderful. Go on and read them.

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8 Comments / Post A Comment

I am absolutely convinced that money fixes poverty.

s. dekker (#3,301)

@i’llnamemypuppyavonbarks Who’d have thought, right?

chic noir (#713)

Amen!

chic noir (#713)

*the ghost of jquick enters chic noir’s body*

They should have studied STEM!

PicNic (#3,760)

the stories these people are telling reminds me so much of my childhood. I was raised by a single mom who was always paid less than a living wage and it was always a question – do we buy toilet paper or bread? Do we pay our electric bill or our rent?

Between this and the story about how poverty is mentally exhausting and wears people out, I’m overwhelmed. I’m so grateful these things are being talked about and so sad resources aren’t more widely available for everyone that needs them.

I’m very lucky in that I do currently earn a living wage, and have the healthcare I need, and can afford to pay my rent and buy groceries with just some thoughtful budgeting. But I’m probably never going to forget that kid that had to rush to get her homework done before it was dark because the lights were out again. or snuggle up to her mom in the same bed because there was no heat, and it was February in NH.

Stina (#686)

@PicNic *hugs PicNic*

Full disclosure: I used to be the Grievance Officer for Local 6 and I still translate their weekly newspaper once in a while when the regular Spanish translator isn’t available, so take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt.

This story is a great example of the fact that labor unions can make a huge and positive impact on workers’ lives.

cjm (#3,397)

I would love to see a follow up in a year, and 2 years. Will “lifestyle inflation” get them? I’m sure they will almost all still be better off. However, they might be back to month-to-month in the better of situation. Do most of them have the right skills to manage their lives and money solves the problems (which seems to be how we mostly feel on this site)?

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