"If we raised the wage to $15, I'd be able to put money back into the community."

Jasmin Ferrante spoke to the Tacoma City Council telling them that Tacoma needs a raise.

Hello, my name is Jasmin Ferrante. I’m 19 years old, and I have been working from the age of 16. Now, many people see teenagers as people who are working just to maybe buy new outfits, spend it on drugs, or just, you know, not necessary funds. But I am 19 years old and I have to support a household. I am the child of a single mother, who happens to be an LPN, who has to pay a mortgage, who has to pay bills, and I have to work to support my mother. My whole paycheck goes to my mother so she can put a house over our heads and provide us with food. So once my whole paycheck is gone, I can’t even afford anything. I can’t afford basic essentials, like my glasses—do you see this? My glasses are broken. I can’t afford to go out and buy a new pair of glasses. I can’t afford to buy a new pair of shoes if my shoes are broken. And I can’t even afford to go to college. All my time is spent working. For what? For nothing. I can’t better myself. I can’t have a future, because all my time is spent working, and all we are paid is $9.47. Do you really think that’s gonna have an effect on college tuition? That is not gonna help me pay for college at all.

Talking to a lot of the youth in Tacoma who happen to work, it’s the same case for them. They can’t afford to go to college, they have a family they have to support. Are you telling us that our future isn’t important? I know people who work full-time and are homeless. They can’t afford to pay rent. They can’t afford to eat. I have a boyfriend who also happens to work at McDonald’s. He has to take care of his disabled brother, his cousin, and I have to live with him part-time just to go to work. And I can’t help him, because all my money is going towards my mom. Today, his electricity got cut off because he had to make the decision of whether he was going to put food on the table or whether he was going to pay his bill. And that should not be a decision that someone has to make. That’s inhumane.

I was speaking before—I can’t go home. I live in Lakewood and my job is in Tacoma. I don’t have a car, I can’t afford to buy a car, I can’t afford to pay $72 a month to buy a bus pass. I’m sure you all, after this meeting, get to go home and lay in your own beds. I can’t. I have to stay at somebody’s house just to go to work. And it’s unfair.

If we were to raise the minimum wage to $15, I would be able to go to college. I would be able to get myself a respectable wage to put back into the community. My mom, as an LPN, would be able to have a higher wage as well, and wouldn’t have to rely on her children to support her. $15 would lift a lot of people out of poverty. People would be able to make a living wage. They wouldn’t have to decide, “Hey am I going to pay my bills this month, or am I going to have to go without food for this month?”

We deserve $15, because our lives matter. Thank you.