What It's Like to Be a Burger King Employee Making $7.40 an Hour
Claudette Wilson is 21 and works two jobs in the fast food industry, one at Burger King and one at a pizza place. She is on her feet, sometimes for 12 hours a day, and makes $7.40 an hour. She agreed to share her experience for the Guardian's A Day's Work series because she wants people to understand why fast food workers have been striking for better wages.
1. What is your typical day like?
Every day for me is different. I can tell you how a typical Saturday is like: first I wake up around 8am to go to work at Burger King from 10am to 6pm. After I get off of work from Burger King, I go to my second job at Jet's Pizza from 6pm to midnight. After I get done with working, sometimes I hang with friends, sometimes I just go to sleep.
2. There's been a lot of talk lately about people wanting work/life balance. Does your job provide that?
My work/life balance is pretty rough at times. There's not even much time for me, let alone anyone else. In a weird way though, having both jobs does provide balance to me and a change of scene, but I'm not sure about others.
3. What's the craziest/most unexpected thing that's ever happened to you while on the job?
The most unexpected thing that happened to me when I was at work is when I witnessed a robbery at the Burger King I work at. The guy tried to get away in a cab. One of the cashiers and my manager at the time ran outside after the cab and chased it down to get the cab driver's attention. The driver stopped and got out of the car while the cashier and the robber tussled in the backseat for awhile. In the end, the robber got out of the car and ran across the street and got away.
4. What makes for a really good day on the job?
A good day on the job to me is when I arrive on time, and everyone is in their position and ready to work. There aren't many bad attitudes and the customers aren't being rude. The best kind of day is when everyone is doing their job and the day goes by swiftly.
5. What's your annual salary? Do you get benefits?
I get paid $7.40 an hour. My annual salary varies depending upon how many hours I work, but I have not made over $15,000 ever annually. I do not receive benefits. I have worked as a cook, cashier and in just about every position short of management off and on for the last three years. I still live at home with my mother and try to go to school on the side. I do dream of something more, but it's really hard to get jobs right now.
I participated in the strike on 31 July 2013 for District 15 (Detroit, Michigan area). I did it because I desire to accomplish a few things: I want to be able to form a fast food workers union and earn a higher wage. Also I would like to see fast food workers taken more seriously and actually respected for the hard work that we do.