Maggie Amodt makes more than minimum wage and, still, her family can't survive financially.
Since her husband fell off a bus and lost his job, the mother of four has had to provide for her family. Her minimum-wage job in a St. George fast-food restaurant left the family so impoverished they became homeless.Amodt and others gathered Thursday for a National Day of Action to call for raising the minimum wage.
The Coalition of Religious Communities, which advocates for social justice in Utah, sponsored the rally in front of the Federal Building Thursday morning.
After moving to Salt Lake City, the Interfaith Hospitality Network helped the Amodt family find housing. Maggie Amodt has since found a new job working in the packaging department of a large company. But, even with a small raise, the family doesn't have enough money to pay for food, utilities and rent. The family lives in subsidized housing.
"I still feel poor and I'm getting more than minimum wage. I don't want to be rich or anything, I just want to take care of my family," Amodt says.
The Rev. Suzanne Spencer, pastor of the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society said she is concerned at the great disparity between the country's rich and poor. The Dow Jones Industrial Average may be going strong, but millions of full-time minimum wage workers are living in poverty, she said.
"As a religious person, I have to take the point of view of someone who makes minimum wage, not someone who's praying for a high Dow Jones," Spencer said. "You measure the worth of a society, not by the grandeur and the wealth, but by how it treats the least of these, like folks who are struggling to survive."
Bonnie Martinez cried as she told how her full-time mimimum-wage job can't raise her family from poverty. After being kicked out of their apartment they moved to a homeless shelter. Next month, she, her children and grandson will have nowhere to go.
The Rev. Khan McClellan asked Utahns to call their lawmakers to urge them to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 1998, which is set to be heard in Congress this summer. That legislation would raise minimum wage to $6.15 an hour by the year 2000.