I graduated college in the Fall of 2008, right after the big stock market crash in October. Lucky me. When I came home from school, I was fortunate enough to work per diem at my pre-college job for $9 an hour with no benefits and no union.
They had avoided giving me raises for two years (I was due a $0.30 raise per year). I finally called them on it, and they said they would have to get back to me.
Another raise-less week passed by before I received a phone call informing me that instead of giving me my $0.30 a year raise, they would only be giving me a raise of $0.20 for one year and $0.15 for the other. This had nothing to do with my job performance (as it was documented as “spotless” during reviews by my supervisor).
Yet I could understand why this had happened. Shorting me and other staff members of our wages would only serve one person: the owner, whose fleet of luxury vehicles mocked us every time he pulled into the driveway.
I was working at a privately-owned hospital. Though I was not happy about my low wage, I felt worse for the certified nurse’s aids. They did so much work, the dirtiest work there was, and they too only made $9 an hour.
After working there for a month or so after college graduation, a supervisor came to work ill (though she was aware that she had pneumonia) and a few days later, I was in the emergency room refusing chest X-rays. My bill for the emergency room visit and the medication was already nearing $600. I could not afford another $400 for X-rays to tell me what I already knew: that I now had pneumonia.