Dear Governor Patrick,
My CEO suggested I write you a “thank you” letter for my 23 cent raise. And I really needed it! You’re going to raise fees and the gas tax for the privilege of driving my car to work, my credit card is almost maxed out, and my car’s radiator just went out on my way to work last week.But to be honest, Gov. Patrick, I’m not sure exactly why he is suggesting I write to you since you actually vetoed two thirds of our pay raise back in July. In fact, if it wasn’t for the state legislature overriding your veto, I wouldn’t be getting a raise at all.I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I really do need the money, and I know this is a tough economy and all, but how did you justify giving Lt. Gov. Murray’s executive staff (that makes $80,000/yr) a $2,400 pay raise? But if you’re someone like me who has to change diapers, help feed clients, and had to work a 26-hour shift alone with four of my clients during Hurricane Sandy, how are you going to hold up my 23-cent pay raise for two months?
And what was up with that? Why for two months did you indefinitely hold up the Salary Reserve for our pay raise once your veto was overridden? I really needed that $36.80 each of those months! That’s almost half a week of gasoline for me!
I wish you could come to my program just for a day and see what kind of real work we do. I’ve seen staff get their teeth punched out, workers who’ve been knocked out from being head-butted, and who’ve given the Heimlich maneuver to save a client’s life. Then maybe you would see why human service workers deserve a real raise. I love what I do because these people had no choice over their disability, and this is the first job I’ve ever worked at where I feel that I’m actually making a positive difference in someone’s life. But it doesn’t pay the bills at all.
It was the New York Times that pointed out that at our $11.50/hr rate it would take on average 76.5 hours a week just to afford a two-bedroom apartment. I currently now live at home since I got laid off at my office job where I was making a very comfortable salary: enough to pay the bills, the rent for my apartment, and even a little extra to save up for a vacation every six months.
At our $11.50/hr rate it would take on average 76.5 hours a week just to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
Lately, I’ve been working about 55-70/hrs a week (which is the only way you’ll get a decent pay check in my field). And when I can’t get the hours, I’m charging car repairs and my dog’s veterinary bills on my credit card (at 24.99% interest). My company hates paying overtime, and they’ve started to limit that, so I’ve been trying to find side work ranging from landscaping to cleaning gutters on my one day off for extra money. It’s not fun only being able to see my fiancé for a few minutes when I’m coming off a 14-hour shift, especially since on our one day off together I have to spend half the day working a second job.
Almost all of us in the field are forced to work a second job on these wages. Here’s the point, Mr. Patrick: we shouldn’t need a second job if we work 40 hours a week. A second job should be if I wanted to go on a backpacking trip to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu for a month in Peru or buy a really nice car (my current 17-year-old car with the busted radiator isn’t going to last much longer, according to my mechanic).
Plus, you’ve made sure we haven’t had a pay raise in five years. I know cost-of-living adjustments have gone the way of the dodo, but isn’t your Democratic Party supposed to be the party of the working class? Are you ignorant of the rising costs of fuel, health care, groceries, and day care, or do you simply not care? Which one is it? Because it sounds like there is a complete lack of respect for our work if you think we aren’t worth it.
But I’m probably asking too much by asking for a real raise for my 30,000 co-workers (though I’m sure you’ll never hear these complaints from Lt. Gov. Murray’s staffers around the corner).
Ultimately, you were nice enough to give us a 2.02% raise, but the next day your buddy Barack Obama let the payroll tax expire and that left us with a .02% raise. Then days later, at your “State of the Commonwealth” speech, you proposed to raise the state payroll tax by 0.2% and to raise our income tax rate by 1% (while letting the corporate tax rate stay the same).
So in the end, your party gave us a pay cut. I’m sure my former CEO at Vinfen, Gary Lamson, who made over $400,000 in 2010, can easily afford a tax increase like that. But we can’t. I really can’t thank you for “nothing” since your party gave us 1.18% less than nothing. But I hope you sleep easier knowing that we who live pay check to pay check will now have more of a burden because you didn’t want to tax corporations.
PS – To give you credit, you didn’t cut any funding for the people we serve, and I honestly thank you for that. The people we serve are some of the warmest and most loving people I’ve ever known, and they deserve nothing but the best.