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Raise the Wage: Fighting to make enough money to feed my children in Virginia

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by Rocio Diaz, CASA Member

As a single mom, buying groceries for me and my two children has become a struggle. Every time I get to the supermarket, I get anxious and my hands start to sweat because I don’t have enough money to feed my family. I clean apartments in Manassas for a living, sometimes five apartments per day, and my salary has never been above $9/hour. Right now I only buy the most indispensable food, only what I really need. If I earned more money, I could buy more food.

Virginia’s minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour, where it’s been for over a decade. My salary has never increased while I’ve been living in Virginia over the past 15 years. Meanwhile, family expenses continue to rise. Each month, I spend $100 on transportation and $700 on babysitting. I must also make enough money to pay my rent and sometimes I don’t know how to make ends meet.

Raising the Virginia minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024 would boost the wages of over 180,000 Latinos (which is more than half of all Latino workers in the commonwealth); over 336,800 African-Americans (43% of the African-American workforce); over 102,900 Asian-Americans (30% of all Asian-American workers); and over 652,100 whites (more than a quarter of all white workers). There is legislation pending in the Virginia General Assembly which would do just that and make sure that domestic workers, agricultural workers, home care workers, and more are covered.

I’m a DREAMer working hard in this country. I’m a single mom of a beautiful little girl, Marjorie (age 7) and a son, Mateo (age 4).   To save money, we crowd into a two-bedroom apartment in Prince William County with my sister to share expenses.  I feel bad because sometimes I have to tell little lies to my children when they want a special food or a toy. I tell them that I can’t do it now or will buy it later.  But in reality, I can’t ever buy it because I don’t make enough money. When their birthdays come, we can’t invite other children because I can’t afford to give them a party.

With a salary increase we all win—working families like mine win, businesses win when families like mine have more money to spend, and Virginia wins with a larger tax base. But most importantly for me, Marjorie and Mateo win.

Join me and your neighbors in calling on legislators in Richmond to finally raise the minimum wage to $15. Juntos Podemos!