Challenge to the Mayor: You Try Living on $8.50 an Hour

San Jose resident Baylingual pens a letter to the Mayor, explaining why supporting a minimum wage increase is not only smart, it's also necessary for survival in San Jose.

Hello Mayor Reed,

I am Ookie, your every day San Jose individual, who writes and produces music, who worked at a 9 to 5, which did not pay him what he needed to survive, even though I busted my ass for such a small check. I worked at a convenience store and a pizza spot known as Pizza Hut. Both places were horrible experiences given the little amount I recieved. They were jobs I think any politician who voted against the minimum wage increase should work and try to live off of. Mayor Reed, I feel you would gladly, and quickly, support the minimum wage increase of $8.25 an hour to $10.00 an hour if you had to provide for your family on those jobs wages.

Getting up at the crack of dawn for a job that can't cover rent really sucks ass. At both jobs, since  was young and new, people were always talking garbage, making me get their food, telling me to pick up their garbage. It's funny because I'm getting entry level bag boy money, yet I'm doing janitorial work, but just not getting paid janitorial money. I think customers understood that I wasn't get paid enough as they saw me hustle to meet their needs. They would even try to tip me, but I couldn't take it because of the work policies.

Things were so tight for me, I couldn't even pay the lightrail ticket that took me to work. It just doesn't make sense. How does anyone expect young people to become independent and self-reliant if we don't make the wages to make that possible?

That's why I am amazed at you Mayor Reed, since you pushed against the wage increase when you could have helped make it a reality. How does it feel to be in a position of power and not want to help the working class people, when gas prices have gone up? When tuition for school has gone up? When VTA tickets have gone up? 

I'm 22 right now, and how in the hell am I supposed to pay for all that plus rent? And I know what your thinking, "Why don't you go and get a second job?" Well check this out, how am I suppose to get a job when graduates aren't getting jobs? How am I suppose to get a job when I can't afford to even get  to my job? How would you feel if your choice was eating dinner at night or being able to buy a ticket for the bus in the morning? You and me both know that you making a hefty amount of money.

Mayor Reed, you put yourself out there as a fiscally responible person. Well so am I. And so are the other thousands of working class residents of San Jose who need a pay increase to survive, the ones who have to constantly strategize ways to come up with ways that extra bit of money. I want to see you raise a family on $8.50 an hour. I want to see you work at Burger King, KFC, and other jobs like that with today's cost of living. Do you think you can do that?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 One and Only,

Ookie Robinson a.k.a Daniel Zapien


Illustration by Adrian Avila.

About Baylingual

Baylingual is a San Jose Photographer, Youth Organizer, Video Producer, Journalist, and commentator of De-Bug. He posts local music releases on this site called "We Speak Baylingual Music Blog". He is also in the works on a video series interviewing artist all over the bay area, about culture, community, and anything in depth with the interviewee called 'Chopping Game'. 

Write him at:

This article is part of the categories: Politics  / San Jose//South Bay 
This article is part of the tags: Average  / Community  / High Power  / Letter  / Mayor Reed  / Ookie robinson  / Person  / San Jose 


Thank you for speaking the truth. I hope he reads it and empathizes. This is a messed up situation that we are in.

Post a comment

Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS