Working mothers in Denver discuss why minimum wage isn’t working for them

Five working mothers discussed their struggles working for minimum wage, often without paid sick leave, in a Denver that has experienced a 13.6 percent increase in the cost of living in the last five years.

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One dollar. (Flickr/Chris Dlugosz)

One dollar. (Flickr/Chris Dlugosz)

“We’re not asking to be rich,” Melissa Benjamin told The Guardian.

The 38-year-old Denver mother and home health certified nursing assistant was speaking with a group of Denver’s working mothers as part of The Guardian’s election year discussion group series.

“We just want to make sure we have food on the table and our rent paid; we just want to make sure that our shelter and our heat and our food and our children are taken care of. We’re not asking to live in luxury. We’re not asking anyone to give up their wealth to give to us … We’re just asking them to tone it down a little bit so it works, so this society works for everybody that works in this society.”

Benjamin and four other working mothers discussed their struggles working for minimum wage, often without paid sick leave, in a city that has experienced a 13.6 percent increase in the cost of living in the last five years. They work in industries that are part of Fight for 15, The Guardian reports, a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

“If I’m working minimum wage, because of the rising cost of rent, I have to make certain decisions,” 31-year-old Yolanda Begay told the group. “I have to make decisions like, OK, am I able to get groceries, am I able to afford my public transit this week, can I get the basic necessities that I need?”

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