Hi, I’m Andy. I work at Mighty Taco: cooking, cleaning dishes, and dealing with some of Western New York’s drunkest and most belligerent people in the early morning after a night of partying. I go to the University of Buffalo, studying chemistry and philosophy. Between juggling school and work, I must deal with the fact that I’m a type 1 diabetic with celiac disease. Despite working almost 30 hours a week, I worry about making my next health insurance co-pay, and often find myself skipping meals to afford my medicine.
Contrary to popular belief, my work is difficult. Every day I come home with migraines, cuts, and back pain, and when I come home I must rely on canned food for most of my meals. I know it’s not just me. In fact, there are many who work in the food industry just like me who are even worse off, countless masses of people who go hungry, exposed, and without our concerns or needs being met. This is all happening in an age of extreme abundance and obscene luxury. It is often said that the top one percent own as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent. That figure is grossly inaccurate. A more accurate depiction of wealth concentration in America would show that only a fraction of the one percent owns as much as all of us on the bottom of the trickle-down economic lie. With corporate executives, owners of sports franchises, and entertainment executives’ yearly salaries being so large, they could afford to lose 90 percent of their income without noticing a difference in living standards. A 90 percent cut to my wage would leave me with roughly $26 per week.
So, how do I plan on fighting this inequality? Well, a few months ago I joined an organization known as the Fight for $15. Fast food employees, restaurant workers, and all the “little people”—the people on my rung of the ladder—are banding together. Working people standing up and challenging the big bosses, the CEOs, or so-called “corporate executive overlords.” We’re pushing this weight off our chest one store at a time. Working people need to have a voice in our employment. If they can’t hear us when we petition, then it’s time to write letters and articles to put our pain in print. If that falls on deaf ears, then we will grow larger and louder and take to the streets. We will do whatever it takes to be recognized as working people with all the respect and dignity we deserve.
Freedom is taken, freedom is never given from above. Only when working people move as one collective force can we stand up and fight this inequality. As Frederick Douglass said many years ago: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” —ANDY TRIPP
Andy Tripp is a local fast food worker and Fight For $15 leader in Buffalo, New York. For more information on how you can get involved in the campaign at fightfor15.org.
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