When we start thinking health in upstream terms, we can see the implementation of a living wage as a long-term investment in the well-being of our communities! Read about the impact of a living wage for 5 of the 1,400 World Resort Casino employees who went from earning $10 an hour to $20+ overnight.
Here are some 'upstream highlights' of the impact of a living wage on five casino employees:
Jeannine Nixon is able to access the healthcare services she needs and couldn't previously afford.
"Plenty of people put off what's important health-wise, because that's what they have to put off because of their bills. Before, if something bothered me, I'd wait until it got really bad, because I just couldn't afford to go in.
A lot has changed now with me being in Local 6. I'm able to see all the specialists and in particular have a major surgery that was long overdue."
Nick Cocco is now able to provide his family with the essentials despite rising costs of living.
"A living wage is extremely crucial, because when you look at New York and all the other bigger cities, everything is going up. You're lucky to get a 2, 3 bedroom apartment in a good neighborhood for less than $2,000 a month. How can you expect someone to be a pillar of society, so to speak, when they're giving you $7.50/hour, or $10/hour? You can't even fill up a tank of gas with that kind of money."
Angel Rivera can afford rent, transport and food without having to access community supports.
"Before the contract, I was paying my rent in installments, but I was seriously struggling. Every paycheck was around $365 a week after taxes. So a third goes to rent, you gotta get a MetroCard, I gotta send $100 to my wife—I had to go to the food pantry to get groceries to put in my cabinets."
Luis Melendez doesn't have to choose between paying his rent and buying groceries.
"It's a tremendous change, getting this contract. Right now there are so many people living in poverty each week, doing what I did, struggling. Do you pay rent or do you eat? This country is a very rich country, with a lot of rich people, but so many are in poverty. It's only right that people who work hard get what they deserve."
Donna Molinari is able to provide for her grandchildren and even pay it forward by supporting those in need in her community.
"I have 3 children and two beautiful grandsons—twins! Having extra money allows me to help my grandchildren. If they need diapers, I can get them diapers, and I can feel good. Now I can be a grandmother to them.
The other night I was on the train coming home and there was this young girl with three young children, and she had a container of milk, and I heard the middle child of the three ask, "Mom, can I have some milk?" and the mother said, "No, you know we need it for the baby." And I remembered feeling like that. So when we got off the train I gave her a few bucks and told her to go get some milk. And I saw the look in her face, and I've been there before! There are so many people who have been there before."
"Making a living wage isn't luxurious, it's living! It's being able to take breaths and go to sleep at night and not worry as much."
"For people with family, especially children, how do you make a choice like that? You have to borrow to pay the bills, and you borrow from this person to pay that bill. Making a living wage isn't luxurious, it's living! It's being able to take breaths and go to sleep at night and not worry as much."
Photos courtesy of Jeannine Nixon, Nick Cocco, Angel Rivera, Luis Melendez, and Donna Molinari respectively.