Underpaid Employees Working Against Minimum Wage

Morrigan Armstrong , Senior Reporter

Though it may be referred to differently, a living wage is being paid just enough to cover all basic necessities, at a rate of forty hours a week, fifty-two weeks a year. But as the living wage increases with the economy over time, the minimum wage has not been keeping up with it, causing many to have to take multiple jobs in order to survive. Thanks to better education and more open-minded people in today’s day and age, many are fighting against this treatment; joining unions, going on work strikes, and just not getting jobs that they feel they’re underpaid for to protest against such low wages. 

     “…If I feel I’m not being treated fairly I don’t think I should have to go through that….” remarked Henri Stupfel, a former employee at Subway, paying him $13.25 an hour to wash dishes, prepare food in almost every step of the process, handle customer transactions, and keep the area clean overall. The store was often unclean, understaffed, and much of the equipment hadn’t been updated since the 2000s. He had quit his job after he had called in sick, barely able to type a message to his boss and coworkers. In response, one of the assistant managers chastised him for not coming into work, and then the manager told him to find someone to cover his shift himself. Many of his coworkers had also either left before him or soon after. The only people to stay at the establishment claimed that they stayed because they had bills to pay, some even having the burden of children on top of that. For reference, the general living wage for one adult on their own in Multnomah County, Oregon is approximately $18.86 per hour, and the same adult with one child is estimated to be about $35.37 dollars an hour. 

 According to the information on the Oregon Labor and Industries website, if you aren’t entirely sure about what you can and cannot do, here are some good rules of thumb if you live in Oregon: tips cannot be taxed or have any taken out of it from your manager or your employer. They can be pooled with your coworkers and split from there, but otherwise, your tips are yours. Even if you are a minor, you are not allowed to be paid less than the area’s minimum wage, and it is illegal for your employer to do so. If you are making the minimum wage, or close to it, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can be extremely beneficial. If your employer has more than ten employees, you receive an hour of sick leave for every thirty hours you work, but that caps off at forty hours every year. Also, be careful of coworkers who try to steal your tips, as that does happen. If you have concerns over what you are being paid or working conditions contact the BOLI for more information or to file a report, email [email protected], or call 971-673-0761.