A voice for the silencers, the whisperers!

Brittany got involved in the fight for $15 after her sister first went on strike. She is a mother who worked at McDonald’s. She has been involved in multiple fast food actions and even went down to Olympia to talk to legislators about raising the state minimum wage. She hopes to own a business in the restaurant industry some day.

I love being around food, period. I was looking for something in fast food, so when I found that I can get a job at something that I love to do, which is making food and serving customers, I was like, Oh, kudos, yay! I can get the job!

I want to go to school for culinary arts. I keep on hearing Cordon Bleu, but I don’t know — no more student loans! I see myself being a business owner, having my own restaurant, being successful, and paying my workers, my employees, a living wage. I like to cook a lot, so I’d have a lot of different varieties. But I don’t want to do a whole bunch because people would be confused, so I’ll just keep it simple. Something good, cheap, and simple.

In the condition I’m in right now, I don’t see a way to get there. Unless the boss man gives us some bonuses! As of right now, I make $9.52 at McDonald’s and I work about 37 hours a week, pretty much full time. I live with my mom, my five-year-old daughter, and my three other sisters in a two-bedroom in Skyway. I help my mom with the bills, including my bills, and I help my sister with her bills.

When I get $15 an hour, the first thing I’ll do is save and move out. I’d save for like a little small apartment, and put me and my daughter into school. It would make a difference, let me start putting stuff aside so I can have, like, steps. I’d be a better person. I’d stop worrying about what can I do and what can’t I do — I’d be able to do more. If my daughter wants to go to the movies I could be just ok, let’s go to the movies. Or, you wanna go to the zoo, let’s go to the zoo. Or, you wanna go to the Space Needle, I’ll take you up to the Space Needle! Because she’s adventurous. I could be like, yeah, I can afford that instead of me saying oh no, mommy can’t do that, that bill just popped up, Mommy needs bus fare.

How I see it is, if I’m a boss and I’m making over $10 million a year, and I have 60 employees and I see them struggling, I’d say, You know what, you’ve been loyal to my company, I have no issue with you, I have no problems. You know what, I’m going to give you a raise just because I know where you’re at, I know how you feel, I was there before.

People want to bring people down because of where they live or how much money they have. A bunch of BS. Because if I had the money to do it, I’d do it, like, Look at you being loyal, you’re getting a raise!

I just want to see my living situation change. Living good. No worries. Hakuna matata.

They push me forward

My sister Martina got me involved. She yelled. More like an inspirational speech. Like, Why should we stay quiet for people who don’t show us respect when we work for their company. We do so much just to please the boss but he only gives us two pennies to scratch together. So why not? I know he worked hard to get where he’s at, so why not help the people to get where they want to be at?

So we boycotted, we striked, we marched, we yelled, we demanded. And I spoke, which I was scared to do.

I’m more of a silent person. If I see anything happening, I just keep my silence. But since we started working together, I’m just screw that, no more. I came over a couple of my fears actually. I’m not so quiet. I voice my opinion now.

When people are like can I get a statement from you, I’m like sure. But they’re mean, really mean. Got the camera all in, the microphone all in your face, you’re sweating. I’m just like uh, give me five minutes to breathe in my bubble. My words stumble because once the camera is in my face I know what I’m gonna say but it doesn’t come out the way I want to say it. And after the fact I’m like damn, I shouldn’t have said that! But I’m getting better.

I felt really good taking a stand at the strike. Even though the corporation and the bosses were there, I’m just ok, whatever, come on with me. If I can do it, stand up, you guys can do it too. I guess when people fear authority that’s where they be like oh I don’t want to do it. And authorities be like yeah, you better not do it. And I’m like, You’re gonna do it. I’m gonna do it. You’re gonna do it.

But as an individual person, I can’t make somebody do what I want them to do. So it’s just if I feel like I’m the only person with the voice inside that one store, where I know they know that I’m not afraid of higher authorities, then they look at me as inspiration, like she can do it, she can do it and they push me forward. So it’s just like if I have a voice for 30 employees at my job then I’ll be that one voice. A voice for the silencers, the whisperers!

After that strike, some of my co-workers told me how long they’ve been working for the company and how much they make. People have been working for the company for ten years and only make 90 cents more than I do. So I’m like ok, we’re going to fight for this change, because that’s a shame. Anybody who’s that loyal to your company, they should be getting salaries, I’m talking $2,000, $3,000 a month salaries. After ten years, if you are that loyal and you love your job that much, you shouldn’t even have to worry about how you’re going to afford daycare for your child.

Every day is a good day for me

People don’t understand how and what we do, as in like oh you just flip burgers. OK, we might flip burgers, but if something was inside your burger, you’d like to know before you eat it. People get mad when they get food poisoning because either they don’t wash their hands correctly or they don’t cook the food properly. Well, that’s included in fast food. Even though it’s called fast food, we still have to make sure your food is good for you to eat, so nothing happens to you. So we gotta make sure we sanitize everything, we gotta make sure we wash our hands every 5 - 7 minutes, we gotta make sure our food is properly cooked. It’s a lot of preparing just for your dollar hamburger. So it’s just a lot. Well it’s not really a lot, we just make sure that when we serve our customers, we make sure everything is right, basically.

Even though our McDonald’s is in a bad place, a really bad place, I kind of like it because it’s like — I don’t know if it feels homey, but I can feel comfortable. You know you have your crack dealers, you have drug users, the prostitutes, all that. And there’s been like times when people like came across the counter attacking the workers, so I’m just like: if we’re risking our lives to help people, we have to get a little better wage. Is it really worth dying on downtown Pine & 3rd for $9 basically?

But I’m not a very judgmental person, and I see my customers every day. I don’t know, I wouldn’t know how to explain it, but I just like it. I don’t like the environment, but I love my customers, and I love my co-workers. I’m happy to see my customers. I’m happy to see my co-workers, to see some of my managers. I always have a very good day at work. Even though people have issues there, I’ll be in my own zone.

I’ll be like ok, I feel your pain, I can understand it, but I have my own problems to deal with. I gotta deal with mine before I can deal with somebody else’s. So every day is a good day for me.