Good morning. As he just told you, my name is Brian Thompson. I work at the Philadelphia International Airport as a baggage handler with PrimeFlight. I make 7.25 an hour. On a good biweekly pay period when I'm given the opportunity to work a full 80 hours, I take home about $449. That is obviously not enough to live on.
It is nothing but a struggle just to pay my bills and get by. There's no real flexibility or breathing room in my budget. Small things that other people might think are minor annoyances can spell financial disaster when you're scraping by on minimum wage. If I drop my phone on the pavement, I know I don't have the money to fix it. If I leave my breakfast or don't make breakfast, I know I can't afford an overpriced airport meal, especially twice a day. If I leave a TransPass on my kitchen table, paying full price for SEPTA fare will blow my entire week's budget.
Working at this job I had to move back with my parents, because there is no way I could afford an apartment of my own off what I make at the airport. This leaves me stressed about money all of the time, and I know that without this bill, there's no hope in sight for a raise.
At my job I'm often reminded of a Chris Rock bit where he described earning minimum wage working at McDonald's. He said, You know what it means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss is trying to say? Your boss is saying, Hey, if I could pay you less, I would, but it's against the law.
My co-workers and I are realists. We understand one basic truth about working at the airport, and that's if PrimeFlight and other subcontractors at the airport could legally pay you less, they would. If these subcontractors had an interest in the livelihood or morale of their co-workers and the people that work for them, they would have phased in raises incrementally a long time ago, but they don't even explore it.
It's not right that working adults in Philadelphia are not able to pay basic bills when they are gainfully employed. Subcontracted workers are not looking for a bailout. We're not looking for a handout. We're not looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. We're simply asking to not live in poverty if we're working full time. We want the existing minimum wage benefit standards to apply to us too.
What does it say about Philadelphia if we choose not to enforce a law that would keep thousands of people out of poverty? What does it say about our city if it isn't important enough to allow voters and workers to have a say? Airport workers are voters too. I know that thousands of us look forward to getting in that booth this spring and voting for fair wages for all airport workers.