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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 20, 2013 at 7:34 AM

A higher minimum wage will protect low-level workers

Starter jobs are now lifetime occupations

A letter in the Nov. 16 paper proudly (and quite appropriately) describes how a low-paying starter job is a springboard to better things [“$15 minimum wage won’t help the most vulnerable get a job,” Opinion, Nov. 16].

When I, and I’m guessing that the writer also, was starting out, low-paying jobs were for high school or college students. When I left school, I could get a job, probably union, bucking rivets at Boeing in Seattle or polishing gears at Caterpillar near where I grew up.

We could sign on as a shop apprentice with the prospect of becoming a journeyman machinist in two or three years. Now, opportunities like that are few and far between. Fast-food serving, hotel-room cleaning, housecleaning, maintaining yards and landscapes, and day care work are no longer starter jobs. Most employees doing those jobs are trying to make a living, have limited room for advancement and little opportunity to find a better paying job.

Until society values these vital jobs enough to pay a living wage, minimum wage is the only protection these workers have. Yes, that’s a problem for the few remaining “starter jobs.” Yes, some employers would reduce hours. Yes, the price of a burger would go up a bit. These are different problems.

Ron Hammond, Bellevue

Comments | More in minimum wage | Topics: Minimum Wage

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