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Teen Fast-Food Worker to Testify in Support of $15/Hour Minimum Wage

State lawmakers will be hearing from Jena Benson, 18, left, a fast-food worker from Dorchester, as she testifies in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Courtesy: Fight for $15
State lawmakers will be hearing from Jena Benson, 18, left, a fast-food worker from Dorchester, as she testifies in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Courtesy: Fight for $15
October 13, 2015

BOSTON - An 18-year-old doughnut-shop worker from Dorchester will be among those testifying today at the State House as lawmakers begin hearings on a series of measures to raise pay and improve working conditions.

The measure pending before both houses that is grabbing the biggest headlines is the one that would boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour over three years.

Jena Benson divides her time between classes at Bunker Hill Community College and working at a Dunkin Donuts in Boston. She plans to tell lawmakers that she and her fellow workers should not have to struggle every day just to get by.

"I just want to make sure everyone understands that we don't deserve just the $9 an hour we make," says Benson. "So, when I say everyone needs to come together, I mean everyone that's working these jobs - letting workers know that we could win."

Opponents of the measure say raising the minimum wage actually could decrease the job opportunities available to low-wage workers. The measures (H 1773, S 1024) would provide the $15 an hour minimum to fast-food workers and those working at large retail outlets.

Benson is also in support of the Just Schedules Bill (H 1708, S 1973), which would encourage employers not to make schedule changes for workers on short notice.

"It would affect me because my hours at Dunkin Donuts, they are not really set," says Benson. "My boss can take away my hours whenever she wants to, or give them to somebody else. It would help me schedule everything else I need to do, because sometimes I don't know when my day off is, or when do I have time to study, do my homework."

Supporters say momentum is building for the change in the Commonwealth following recent proposals and decisions to boost wages for some workers in New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA