Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

TM Digital Newsletter

TM TikTok

Essential employees deserve better

The pandemic has proven that essential employees deserve better compensation for the stress they go through. Courtesy of: Creative Commons Photo credit: Clarissa Arceo

Minimum wage employees deserve better starting with higher wages. This includes our fast food, retail and grocery store associates.

A lot of love for our essential employees emerged at the beginning of the pandemic. Nearly every corner had a banner reading ‘we love our essential employees.’

Now, at almost every corner we turn, a help wanted sign is posted on the windows of our local Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walmart and pizza spots.

The term ‘essential’ became a key characteristic at the start of quarantine in deciding who was going to work and who wasn’t.

Low-wage workers thus became essential and included in the campaign for appreciating folk risking their lives to earn a living.

As the pandemic prolonged, videos began going viral on social media of minimum wage employees speaking out on their work experiences being treated horribly by customers along with videos for proof.

One of the most recent viral videos shows former Merrill Lynch employee, James Iannazzo, in Fairfield, California, yelling at teenage employees at a local smoothie shop.

48-year-old Lynch demanded to know who made his drink after his child had an allergic reaction.

He yelled racial slurs at the teens, threw the drink at one of the young girls and attempted to enter their kitchen.

Although Lynch was later fired from his job, as some companies have began to do as videos such as this have gone viral, it simply is not enough.

The minimum wage in California was only just officially increased to $15 an hour at the start of 2022.

In 2020, the Statista Research Department reported that about 48% of employees working hourly rates at or below the minimum wage are between 16 and 24 years old.

The majority of workers making and serving your caramel macchiatos, Big Macs and bagging your groceries for the third time that week are young adults.

These are the same folk who are getting racial and misogynistic slurs and incorrect orders thrown at them from left to right.

In the summer, I got a job as a barista to earn some extra cash; I thought it would be a decent part-time job to help me out with school expenses.

I quit my job at Dunkin’ for several reasons.

My sign to leave should have been the former employee telling me I wouldn’t like working there the day I was hired, or maybe it should have been the woman who threw her drink at me in the drive-thru after calling me a racial slur during my first week working.

I left my job because I was completely exhausted at the end of every shift- especially when I was scheduled to work mornings. Not only were we constantly short-staffed and hiring on and off, but we were busy.

Employees worked out of our job description as crew members being paid less than the minimum wage and would end up taking on extra hours even when we had already worked the limit of our contracts.

Customers would argue with managers, get angry and impatient, and sometimes get verbally violent; It was overwhelming.

A lot of my [former] coworkers quit for similar reasons and say that they would not work a minimum wage job ever again.

What happened to the statement ‘we love our essential employees?’

4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in November 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

As jobs have begun going on hiring sprees, many have criticized workers for being ungrateful to not want to work anymore.

Did you know that two minimum wage jobs is not enough to cover the cost of living in California for even one individual? There is no state, county or city in the country where a full-time, minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Minimum wage employees deserve better; Better treatment, better benefits, better work environments, and better compensation for what they go through.

Getting harassed and threatened by strangers who are probably twice their age is not worth the $14 an hour and no benefits.

So how do we get our minimum wage workers the justice they deserve? We start by paying these valuable people their worth.

Story continues below advertisement
About the Contributor
Clarissa Arceo
Clarissa Arceo, Community Editor
Clarissa Arceo is Community Editor for Talon Marks covering community news, Life, and arts & entertainment. She is a Journalism major transferring to a 4-year university in the Fall. Aside from reporting, Arceo enjoys photographing community events, reading contemporary romance and psychological fiction novels, and taking trips to the beach.  
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Talon Marks Picks TM Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Essential employees deserve better