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Mariah St. Paul, MN

I’m a “Flex” worker

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My name is Mariah. I’m 32 years old, and I work for a large retailer part-time as a “flex worker”.  I get about 8-10 set hours per week, and then I pick up additional shifts up to a total of about 30 hours per week. I make $7.85 per hour. Health coverage isn’t offered through my employer, and I don’t get any paid time off if I’m sick. It’s not a very secure situation – not knowing what amount of wages I’ll bring in from week to week. I have to be extremely careful with money and watch what I spend. Luckily I can take the bus to work every day, because I can’t afford a car.

Working retail is challenging. We do a lot of extra work, and the company expects us to multi-task constantly by taking customer phone calls at the same time as we’re helping another customer at the register. But the thing is, you can’t be as good at customer service when you work like that. I have to say, though, that at least I’m not a contract worker. Some of my fellow workers, who do the cleaning at the retail company, get treated even worse than the flex workers.

If I earned better wages, I could plan for the future better. I hear other people talk about creating a yearly budget, and it’s like, “That is not even reality for me. I plan my budget for the week.” I can’t save for the long haul. I’m at the age where you’re supposed to be able to do that. I’ve actually been engaged to be married for six years. My fiancé and I can’t afford to get married. It’s not like I want an expensive wedding or anything – I think that spending the money that many people do on a wedding is ridiculous. But I can’t afford even a small, practical wedding. I’d love to afford to buy a home someday, but right now I don’t see that in my future. That’s why I’m standing with other workers and TakeAction Minnesota to call for an end to poverty wages!