Newspaper article

Working for Minimum Wage: 'There's No Room for Advancement'

Newspaper article

Working for Minimum Wage: 'There's No Room for Advancement'

Article excerpt

Part of a series of first-person accounts relating to news events of 2013.

Life could be different for Darcy Landau if the Minnesota Legislature had agreed this year to raise the minimum wage beyond the federal-mandated $7.25 an hour. (The House was willing to match the $9.50 an hour called for by advocates for the poor. The Senate bill offered a 50-cent-an hour increase. Compromise efforts failed, but don't doubt legislators will hear the plea increase again in 2014.) Age 56 and a college graduate, for the past six years Landau has worked minimum-wage jobs at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport cleaning aircraft and jet-ways, running a warehouse forklift and now is employed as a traveler's aide.

I've worked a warehouse job for six years and now I'm pushing wheelchairs for going on eight months. I'm college-educated and been in the military and newly engaged. I'm doing all this on minimum wage.

I help out the handicapped, elderly, disabled, men, women, children. I'm the guy you see helping people in and out of the aircraft or getting them to the next gate or helping them get a bite to eat at the local restaurant. I like the work; it's very honorable work. It's honest work. I love my life. I can't see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I get $7.25 an hour.

It has always been a struggle for me to find a job that pays very well. That's why I went back to college, to try and break the mold. I took some courses, consolidated them, went back to school when I was 37 and graduated when I was 43. I have two degrees [in world history].

I thought I could get into a company and work my way in [with] like customer service. I've applied for customer service jobs with sporting retail stores. I'm an outdoorsman.

I thought about doing some tutoring. It takes a master's to do that. I did very well in school. I graduated with a good grade point average...about a C-plus. I might go back to school, get a master's degree.

[Out of the military] I worked a year and a half and then decided to go back to school. …

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