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Mother Working at Wal-Mart on Mother’s Day
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Mother’s Day means more work for those underpaid parents working in the service industry, working, as they must, on holidays and weekends. This was true yet again for Charlene Fletcher, a young mother of 32 whom the Huffington Post reported on as an illustration of what it’s like for many mothers who work for places such as Wal-Mart.

Fletcher earns $9.40 for Wal-Mart, which is one of the highest hirers of underpaid workers. She has little choice about getting weekends or holidays off, and meanwhile can only afford a one-bedroom apartment for her husband and 7-year old who share one room to sleep in:


“We all stay in one bedroom. We managed to get all three beds in here – the crib, the twin, and my grandmother’s old fashioned bed frame.”

Though her husband works full time, the two still qualify for California’s medical welfare program, and need it – despite the embarrassment – to make ends meet. While Wal-Mart made the list of the 500 biggest companies, according to Fortune, with 2012 revenues of $469.2 billion, she meanwhile needs WIC to keep her family fed.

We are finding more people like Fletcher, as employment has shifted its structure, so that 2/3 of jobs lost since 2007 were middle-class paying jobs, and 2/3 gained were low-paying jobs, such as work for fast food restaurants, the government, and stores like Wal-Mart. The National Employment Law Project has found that such jobs are now growing three times as fast as other jobs, and the Working Poor Families Project has found in a report that underpaid employment constitutes 1/3 of all working families’ income.

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Fletcher’s actual work, for which she is so modestly repaid, is meanwhile excruciating in the manner we’ve come to expect; she herself is a phone operator, contacting Wal-Mart employees to connect for phone calls; but as more and more employees have been let go, with expectations that those left behind will pick up the slack and work all that much harder to keep things running, Fletch expected this Mother’s Day to be as exasperating as the ones that went before.


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