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Santos Lopez Brooklyn, New York

Life in New York is expensive

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My name is Santos López. I have worked at the Las Vegas Auto Spa car wash since 2004. I am here to fight, not only for myself, but on behalf of my coworkers who find themselves in the same situation.

My co-workers and I work very hard. We have worked up to 70-80 hours per week. When I started the job, I was earning $4.50 per hour plus the tips, but the tips were never enough to bring us up to the minimum wage.

I have a family to support. I have my wife and my three kids that live in New York, where the cost of living is very high. It’s very difficult for me to have to depend on an already low salary and tips. There are times when we get some tips, but often customers don’t even leave a dollar.

My family and I live with my uncle in a 3-bedroom apartment with very limited space and very high rent. We have to share the apartment because I would simply not be able to afford rent and support my family. Life in New York is very expensive, and we have unstable work. It’s not fair for me and my co-workers who work so hard to have to think month by month: will I be able to pay my rent? My kids see toys in the store, and they ask me to buy them things. I often have to tell them that we will come back for them shortly, but I know we won’t. How can I come back and buy a toy car or a doll with my wages? I can’t afford it.

This is why I’m here: to change our lives. We have to change this situation because my family deserves better. We work so hard to be able to support my family. The bosses have to give us the respect we deserve and this includes a dignified salary. With your help, I know we can make this change.