Ruben Jones is a man closer to the age where he should be thinking about retirement, contrary to the "teens who don't need the money" stereotype of minimum and low-wage workers, and makes $8.00 working at a Golden Corral location in the Washington, D.C., area. He's worked for the company over the past five years without seeing a raise. He has two children and four grandchildren who live in Ocean City, Md., who he can't visit because he can't afford to make the trip. Ruben works hard every day, but he lives at home with his mother and grandmother because his low wages, even though they are above the minimum wage, aren't enough for him to get his own apartment.
The “Give America a Raise” bus tour, sponsored by Americans United for Change, AFL-CIO and a coalition of allies, rolled into Washington, D.C., today to conclude a tour that started March 24 and made 18 stops in 10 states over two weeks. The bus trek called upon Americans to support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, which would raise the wages of 28 million hardworking Americans.
At the closing event, attended by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler, AFSCME President Lee Saunders and members of Congress such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), several workers, including Jones, told their stories about living off of low wages.
While Ruben loves his job and considers the customers to be good friends, the demands of the job, and getting to and from work, are tough on him. He told the story of working late enough at night to miss the train home, having to walk the whole way in the rain from Washington, D.C., to Largo, Md., only to have to get up the next day, exhausted, and return to work.
"To be treated like this, it's a shame, it's a shame," Ruben said. "Please, the people who hear me now, today, please raise the minimum wage. We all need it. We all need it."
Watch today's entire press conference, including Ruben's story, and if you think America's working families, like Ruben, need a raise, sign the petition.
Here are some key tweets from today's event, from the #RaiseTheWage hashtag: