The Minimum Wage Spotlight

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The Minimum Wage Spotlight

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The photographic story I've uploaded is about my [family member], Andres, who even with the pandemic at its worst peak, in 2020, had to continue in his job. He's an Arizona field laborer, a key worker for the farm he works in. The conditions are difficult, with a minimum wage that doesn't match the amount of work he does. As the photos indicate, his job can start at a very early time when the sun hasn't even risen. His job usually lasts 12 hours, so when it's the night shift, he doesn't come back till the morning hours. There are weeks when he has to stay inside a hot tractor for hours and there are other days when he has to do a lot of moving and carrying around. Due to the difficult weather Arizona may have, there’s a constant danger of heatstroke especially since a lot of his work includes physical labor.

Looking deeper, these pictures of the work Andres does feels like a representation of the unequal power there is in the minimum wage system. Here we have a field laborer, who due to lack of education and financial resources growing up, wasn’t able to reach for higher positions that require degrees. He grew up in a poverty-stricken family and alongside being a Latino immigrant, opportunities were few and far between so in order to assure he keeps himself and his family fed and sheltered, so he’s forced to continue a job that doesn’t contain the best conditions or pay. This is only emphasized within the pandemic, minimum wage workers forced to continue working in bad conditions including the risk of getting sick because, in order to keep their head above water, they must. And yet, even with all the dangers and the long hours, their pay doesn’t reflect the job. This also connects to race, minorities most of the time stuck in these places due to the disadvantages they grew up with and continue to face. It’s the life of an individual who is input in a life in which already starts with less compared to privileged others, and then a pandemic hits which only emphasizes the disadvantages already there. Overall, the pandemic truly has put a spotlight on the many issues society already had.

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This item was submitted on August 28, 2021 by Diana Arellano Barajas using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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