These are the conditions Anchor Union members are up against – and why they fight:

“Kelly earns $18.35 an hour. That’s $734 a week. That’s $36,700 a year. He recently was forced out of San Francisco; even the illegal in-law off Ocean was getting too expensive. He is now in Oakland, but that’s getting expensive, too. ‘I feel every penny I spend,’ he says. ‘There are times when I have to ask whether I’m buying groceries or paying the phone bill. But I’m not married. I have no kids. This is my only job. So I am able to scrape by.’

He is relatively lucky. Belden is working up to three other jobs. And Jon Ezell, a tour guide turned bottling worker, finds himself living in a two-bedroom U.C. Berkeley student apartment in Albany with his grad student wife, his 7-year-old, his 5-year-old, his 5-month-old baby, and either his mother-in-law or father living in — because who can afford child care? In fact, had his wife stopped attending classes following the birth of their most recent child, she would have lost her scholarships and the family would have been out of this apartment. She was back in class one week later.

He is making $19.25 an hour, which comes out to $38,500 a year. He’s being trained on the machinery by men earning $16.50 an hour.

‘It sounds ridiculous talking about poverty here in San Francisco when you make $19.25 an hour,’ he says. ‘But it creeps up on you. Suddenly, you’re in tight quarters.’

Ezell’s bedroom currently features a bunk bed, a double bed and a crib. Comparable apartments within San Francisco would run $4,000 to $5,000 a month — well more than his entire salary.”

File under: “Why unions matter.” #AnchorUnion
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