We Manage to “Get By”

With a combined total of more than 80 years of employment in Broome County, a 66 year old woman named Rebecca, her mother, age 87 and her daughter, now going back to school, are living together and manage to “get by.” Rebecca has two other adult children who live out of town.

Rebecca works at McDonald’s part time. Because of her low wages she began taking her Social Security at age 62, from which she receives $700 a month. Her work history has included a call center, Lander’s, Kroehler Manufacturing, Impact Sports, the Blind Work Association, and Eureka Tent. Her pay has always been close to minimum wage. When her children were young she had to get food stamps to feed the family.

She is skilled at sewing and in a couple of jobs made a bit above the minimum because the company needed her skill. At the Blind Work Association the company needed a sighted person to check the patterns. At another company she told the manager that she could not live on her salary so she was given a raise of $1 an hour. “I have always been a good worker where ever I have been,” she says.

Rebecca’s mother worked at Kroehler Furniture Co in Binghamton for 28 years, before they closed. Had she worked there 30 years she would have had a pension. She receives none for her 28 years of work. She receives only Social Security.

Rebecca’s Views:

Jobs: “We need more decent paying jobs. There are so few jobs here that pay a good wage. We need to establish a building where people who have a skill could promote that skill into a product that could possibly grow.”

Child Care: “The cost of child care is horrible. How can families with young child exist? The pay levels are too low to afford child care.”

Voting: “I always vote. The last time I voted for the Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. We need to get the word out about the Green Party. The Democrats and the Republicans are two sides of the same coin.” (Rebecca has strong religious/social conservative positions. She expressed great respect/admiration for Ben Carson and was against Howie Hawkins’ line on drugs. Despite that she voted for the Green Party because for her, the class and ecological issues trumped the social issues.)

Politicians: “We need to get rid of the career politicians. Most lack common sense. We need to strictly limit the amount of corporation money that goes to politicians. Only a few corporations seem decent and are interested in the people.”

Casinos: “I am strongly against casinos. They are very addictive and harmful to so many people, especially young college students. There is also a question of how much the casino jobs pay. Let’s support something that is healthy and productive. Maybe an increase in farming would be good.”

Fracking: “I really oppose it. I am not convinced that even now there have been enough studies on it. Fracking is not healthy for the Earth. It can have so many bad effects on our food and water. These are what our body needs to for energy and to repair itself.

GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organism): “They are also unhealthy for the Earth. Companies like Monsanto have bought our politicians. We must join a boycott against Monsanto in order to stop them. We should just boycott a couple of their products. It would be too complicated to just boycott the whole company and all its products. We cannot support fracking and GMO’s just because they won’t affect us in our lifetime. I have a garden in order to get a supply of vegetables. I order seeds from a non GMO company.”

Wealth: “Too many people and corporations spend a whole lifetime, only dedicated to building wealth. It is not good for the rest of us.”

Co-Workers: “Most are young and need to live at home. They usually last only a few months and they leave.”

Change: “Our government now cannot be relied upon to do good things for us. We have to unite and together make the changes that need to be made. We need to get some moxie going.”

In her spare time Rebecca knits clothing for the homeless. She is very concerned about the lives of those less fortunate than she. Because Rebecca works at a McDonald’s franchise, she will not get the hourly rate increase that has been announced by the McDonald Corporation.

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