The Guardian recently published a letter written by a cashier for the foreign company that is contracted to run the cafeteria in the U.S. Senate. Her name is Kim and she is a single mom with a son. Even though Kim serves coffee and food to our nation's most influential and richest leaders in the Senate, she only receives $10.33 an hour, which is below the federal poverty level.
As a result, this single mom working in poverty just made a tough decision:
“Faced with eviction notices and unpaid bills, I decided to dance at a strip club a few nights a few to earn extra money.”
Kim says that her current cashier job does not allow her to afford basic needs for her son, such as clothing and food. Kim's bills were pilling high and she didn't want to live on the streets:
“After paying all my bills and providing for the needs of my son, I’m $600 in the hole every month.”
For Kim, being stripper is the best worst option. Stripping gives her a flexible schedule and the opportunity to earn money for her son. Still, she has regrets:
“I don’t want to be a stripper: it can be demeaning to dance for men who show no respect for women.”
Kim wants to give her son the type of childhood that she lacked:
“My mother was addicted to crack cocaine and, not only did she do drugs in front of me, she neglected to feed or bathe me for days.”
Kim was put into foster homes before being kicked out of her aunt's house:
“I was 14 years old and forced to survive on the streets of Washington, D.C.”
She was pimped out by a man and escaped at age 17:
“He was physically and sexually abusive and forced me into prostitution.”
Single mothers like Kim depend on supplement income just so their families can survive. They are also five times more likely to be in poverty than mothers who are married with a husband.
While Kim and the other cafeteria workers in the U.S. Senate lack a living wage, their colleagues who work in the cafeteria of the U.S. House of Representatives earn an average wage of $14.30 and get paid sick leave. The reason: the House cafeteria workers are unionized and the Senate cafeteria workers are not. In April, several Democratic senators called upon the Senate Rules Committee to ensure that the cafeteria workers receive a living wage and benefits. No decision on the wage increase has been made yet.
(H/T: The Guardian)
Cover image via iStock