HUFFINGTON POST

Senate Cook Bertrand Olotara Begs Obama For $15 Minimum Wage, Says His American Dream Is A 'Nightmare'

04/28/2015 12:47 pm ET | Updated Apr 28, 2015

The plight of the low-wage American worker hit the U.S. Senate close to home last week.

Olotara is a Senate cook who was among the contract workers who went on a one-day strike in a quest to secure a $15-per-hour wage and union benefits, a decision he explained in an editorial for The Guardian. Despite having bachelor's degrees in both private law and international business administration, Olotara presently makes only $12 an hour at his Senate job, he told HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri on Monday.

The wage is not nearly enough to cover his copious monthly expenses, including hundreds of dollars in transportation costs, utility bills and payments toward his $89,000 student loan, for which he has been denied forbearance. And that's all on top of the three separate taxes Olptara pays on the federal, state and county level, he said. He explained in his op-ed for The Guardian that he's been forced to take a second job at a grocery store to make ends meet, and he still needs food stamps to feed his family.

Olotara is back at work, but he told HuffPost Live he wants President Obama to sign an executive order requiring government contractors pay its employees an hourly wage of at least $15 and offer union benefits. Until the president takes action, Olotara said he can't fully believe in the American Dream.

"[If] the president signs this executive order, I may start thinking about the American Dream. For now, it is a nightmare," Olotara said.

Watch Bertrand Olotara's conversation with HuffPost Live in the video above.

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