Who We Fight For

Reina Mejia

I've worked at Burger King for 13 years at minimum wage. I'm a single mom and because of my wages I have to feed my kids eggs for three days in a row because I can't afford to buy meat. For years, we couldn't afford more than a shared bedroom. Mothers should be able to afford to help their children. Watch this video to hear my story.

Andrea Tooks

I'm a security officer for over 15 years, mother of 4 sons. I make $10/hr at 32 hours per week. Watch this video to hear my story. 


Sandra Ortega

Restaurant worker Sandra sharing her experience working in the restaurant industry. 


Lisette Orozco

Lisette2-Crop.jpgLisette shared her struggles to get by with City Beat San Diego

"On her hour-long morning commute, Lisette Orosco drops off her 6-year-old daughter at school near their home in Chula Vista and her 4-year-old son at daycare in San Ysidro, then drives north to Sorrento Valley, where she works as a legal assistant.

She wants to move closer to work, but making $11 an hour, she hasn't found a place she can afford. Instead, the single mother and her children rent a room for $400 a month in a house with two other people. She recently got a second job selling kitchenware on the weekends but is still living paycheck to paycheck.

"It's kind of scary to be at a standstill, because right now I feel like I've sort of plateaued in my life," the 25-year-old said. "I can't even put myself through college. How am I going to put my kids through college?" 

Although she's an articulate high-school graduate working more than 40 hours a week, Orosco—who was introduced to CityBeat by the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI), a left-leaning San Diego think tank— has little to no disposable income and often struggles to secure basic necessities for her family, such as food and clothes. The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and YMCA-subsidized daycare keep them afloat, but it's hard to imagine the family doing more than treading water.

"Right now, the only way I can see getting ahead is by either getting another job or making more hourly," she said."


 Ian Hughes

Screen_Shot_2016-03-10_at_10.29.07_PM.pngIan Hughes spoke out in support of raising the minimum wage and earned sick days in San Diego. Ian and his girlfriend were profiled by Aljazeera on the devastating fear of getting sick with no healthcare. "He works in the kitchen of a large San Diego restaurant, where he is paid $11 per hour. Recently, his hours were cut to four shifts per week. At a much smaller restaurant, Hunter covers front-of-the-house duties — greeting, expediting, busing — for $8 per hour, plus a few bucks in tips. She works between eight and 25 hours per week. Without money for a car, they commute by bike, making it impossible to work a second job. In the best of times, they have earned just enough to cover their $1,265 rent; most months, they end up in the red.

Their schedules, and income, vary with customer traffic, and it’s not uncommon to be sent home on a slow day. At the restaurant where Hughes works, computer software dictates employee schedules, analyzing patron flow and profit margins. He and Hunter say “time-shaving” — where employers alter timecards to avoid paying overtime — is a widespread industry practice. Lack of benefits is also standard fare." 





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