Violeta Luis, Harlem McDonalds

I am 61 years old and I live in Harlem. I’ve worked as a cleaner and cook at the McDonald’s on 125th Street for six years.

My issue at work is not getting enough hours at work to make enough money to pay my bills and take care of myself. The most number of hours that I can count on is about 20 to 23 hours each week. How can I pay rent on that? How can I buy food. I have a costly private health insurance that is also a challenge to afford.

I wake up early, get to work at 5 a.m. only to get just five hours. They’ve also cut my food stamp. When my husband was alive, we were able to support my daughter in her education. She is now going for her Master’s degree in Psychology. I will like to be able to continue to support her. But, how do I do that on what I am making?

I want to work enough hours without having to beg for the hours. I want to pay my own bills, keep a roof over my head and food on the table.

They’ve never explained why I couldn’t get more hours. I know I am one of the older workers and I speak only Spanish. Also, I’ve been a very visible part of the campaign to bring dignity and good wages to Fast Food workers so, maybe, this is just retaliation for being an outspoken leader.

I feel bad because I’ve worked here all these years and shouldn’t have to go through this but I am not going to stop fighting because I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I am going through. That part, being a part of the campaign to bring dignity and respect to low-wage workers, I feel very good about. I am from the Dominican Republic, from a family of fighters. I am proud to fight for what I believe in.