I am family man, I have a wife and I just had a child. I am also a veteran, a Marine who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I now work at Walmart, serving customers every day. While I am excited and appreciative to have a job, I wish that I was paid enough to make ends meet. I currently make $7.70 an hour, three cents more than Florida's minimum wage. At 30 hours per week, that's a little more than $12,000 per year. That is just not enough to pay for food, rent and and still pay for things like car insurance. I don't drive now because I can't afford it. And believe me, it is hard to survive in South Florida without a car.
However, not everyone at Walmart makes minimum wage. Mike Duke, our CEO, made $18 million last year. That's close to $9,000 an hour. Many Walmart workers would be happy to make $9 an hour.
My co-workers and I formed OUR Walmart (Organization United for Respect at Walmart) because we believe that we deserve better. Walmart made over $25 billion in profit last year, and the six members of the Walton family own more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined. We are coming together to ensure that Walmart, a company that can afford to pay us more, does so.
On election day, my vote will go to the politicians leading the fight to raise the minimum wage. I support legislation introduced in the House and Senate to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour and I hope our representatives and senators in South Florida support "raising in the wage" as well.
Raising the minimum wage means almost $100 more in my pocket each week. With $100 extra to spend, I could find a better place to live for my family. I could afford car insurance so our family wouldn't have to wait for the bus on a hot Florida summer day. I would have more money to spend at the stores in my neighborhood that are also struggling. It would be the best economic stimulus my neighborhood has seen in a while.
I am not asking for a bail-out or a hand out. I am not asking for something that would bankrupt Walmart. If anything, studies have shown that Walmart could raise wages to $12 an hour without needing to significantly raise prices for our customers. All that I am asking is that we recognize that when minimum wage workers do good, we all do good.
Raising the minimum wage is the best opportunity we have to get our economy back on track. Will you stand with me in restoring the American Dream for minimum wage workers like me?
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