Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

Life on $7.25 an Hour

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On a recent Friday evening, Eduardo Shoy left work at 6 p.m. Mr. Shoy, a deliveryman for KFC and Pizza Hut, was coming off an eight-hour shift of driving three-cheese pies and crispy chicken fingers, in an automotive blur, to private homes and businesses in central Queens.

Now it was the weekend and he was headed home. He parked his car in the little alley lot behind his house and, passing through the door, he kicked his shoes off, donned a pair of slippers and prepared a mug of tea. He sat down with his television set and ate the box of chicken he had brought back from the restaurant. Within an hour, remote control beside him, still dressed in his uniform, he had drifted off to sleep.

If Mr. Shoy were differently employed, he might have remained that way till morning. But as a fast-food worker paid the minimum wage — $7.25 an hour in New York — he didn’t have the luxury. At 10 p.m., he was up again and back in his car, this time driving to his second job, as a forklift operator at Kennedy International Airport, where he makes $13 an hour. Having worked all day, he was about to work all night: from 11 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. At 3 that afternoon, he would return to his deliveries at the restaurant. Then, at 11, he would once again drive to the airport.

Altogether, on the weekend before Thanksgiving, Mr. Shoy would sleep for 13 hours and work for 44. “Tired?” he asked, sounding puzzled by the question. “I’m too busy to be tired.”

• Category: National, Notable • Tags: Alan Feuer, Fast-Food, Poverty