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Everyone should get a living wage for full-time permanent work


Books by Anne Hart


Everyone should get a living wage for full-time permanent work. The goal is to find work that's so-called 'permanent' or 'secure.' Income security seems as fleeting as food security for so many. This is my message to the next generation of females: Please get job skills somewhere and keep those skills from getting 'rusty'.

When I applied for jobs in the 1960s and 1970s, some of the interviewers said to me "I hope you won't get pregnant and leave the job if you're hired." Other interviewers sometimes also asked, "Do you have a boyfriend?" So, no, I was never hired in permanent jobs. And yes, sir, I'd love to have had a job that paid a living wage when I was young enough to commute to work by bus or train or in later years have the chance to work online from home.

I've always searched for a 40-hours a week job that paid at least minimum wages (hopefully more) and was a secure, permanent job that offered retirement benefits, pension, and health and dental insurance. Never found a job like that, not ever.

Never was even offered that type of a job. I have a B.S. in English Education and an M.A. in English/creative writing emphasis and am skilled enough to do a wide variety of jobs ranging from editing and writing to proofreading and indexing, or even typing using Microsoft Word.

No, never found a permanent secure job. No job ever lasted more than a few months of temporary office work, and never was offered a permanent teaching job. My dream job would have been a career counselor in a high school or college, as I wrote a variety of career-related books, always as a freelancer or in temporary jobs.

So I honestly can say I've never earned more than five figures a year in my career, whether as a freelance writer or working in some office, and I never worked as an employee a full year in any place in the various temporary jobs I had, 1959-2003. The only way I survived financially was to marry a blue-collar repairman who did have a job that paid the rent and utilities, but no pension.

The company dropped the retired employees' health insurance later. So alone, I'd be in poverty in my old age. With a spouse, at least I get free rent and utilities paid because I'm married all those many decades. Wish there were more jobs that actually required a college degree.

I would have made more money if I had just gone to work straight from high school into a secretarial job, if I had taken bookkeeping courses along with shorthand and typing in college and later some computer operations courses for clerical workers and ended up an executive secretary working for the government with excellent insurance benefits and maybe even a pension.

I can't think of any job offered to me that ever required an M.A. in English, since no teaching contract or tenured community college job was ever offered to me to teach creative writing for my entire working career decades.

Alone, I'd sure be living below the poverty level. Married, I'm working-class and over educated....The neighborhood I can afford to live in has mostly people who went to work right after high school and made a good enough living to buy small starter homes which ended up as my 'retirement' residence...Tiny, but easy to clean. What would I have liked?

A tenured teaching or counseling job in a community college and the ability to at least reach the middle class. That's what would have been my dream.
There are too many college graduates and not enough jobs. In 1973 I would have loved to have had a teaching job and would have studied for the master's and credential in school career counseling as well.

What did I get? My California community college teaching credential in English and M.A. degree has never been used as far as being offered a permanent, tenured job. Closest I came to using my degree was in writing many novels, print-on-demand published at my expense, more than a decade ago, but rarely read, except by me. Strangely, I'm happy writing panegyrics to myself and glad I had the opportunity to write creatively when I was young enough to want to work full-time.

When I was young enough to work, I wished I had made a living wage. I have an M.A. degree in English, creative writing emphasis. And no one has ever offered me a living wage in a permanent job to do any task that ever required anything I studied in higher education. When I was able to find work many years ago, what I survived on was the 7th grade course I passed in touch typing, not on any required or elective course I studied in any university.

I'm retired many years now, but retired from looking for a job that paid a living wage, a job that I could get to with public transportation or do online at home. Interestingly, I began college in 1959, same generation as Sanders. He went to Brooklyn college. I lived relatively nearby and went to NYU. Later I went to graduate school at SDSU. Did it help to find a job with a living wage, a long-lasting job that might be held for the length of my full-time working career?

No. Temporary work came and went, but still no contracts or tenured jobs ever were offered to me...just independent contractor-type freelance jobs, edit this, proofread that. Or write articles for business magazines interviewing people who owned small businesses and were success stories....Then I wrote more case histories of corporate success stories and press releases as an independent contractor. Did any of these gigs pay a living wage on a long-term basis so I might afford what middle-class workers usually can afford ? No.