Via Media Matters.
In an open letter to the Yelp CEO last week, a 25-year-old woman who identified herself as Talia Jane explained that she could not afford groceries and rent on her minimum wage pay at Yelp’s Eat24 food delivery network in San Francisco. Most of her co-workers were living with their parents, and one guy was apparently homeless. The whole thing is worth reading.
I haven’t bought groceries since I started this job. Not because I’m lazy, but because I got this ten pound bag of rice before I moved here and my meals at home (including the one I’m having as I write this) consist, by and large, of that. Because I can’t afford to buy groceries. Bread is a luxury to me, even though you’ve got a whole fridge full of it on the 8th floor. But we’re not allowed to take any of that home because it’s for at-work eating. Of which I do a lot. Because 80 percent of my income goes to paying my rent. Isn’t that ironic? Your employee for your food delivery app that you spent $300 million to buy can’t afford to buy food. That’s gotta be a little ironic, right?
…I got paid yesterday ($733.24, bi-weekly) but I have to save as much of that as possible to pay my rent ($1245) for my apartment that’s 30 miles away from work because it was the cheapest place I could find that had access to the train, which costs me $5.65 one way to get to work. That’s $11.30 a day, by the way. I make $8.15 an hour after taxes. I also have to pay my gas and electric bill. Last month it was $120. According to the infograph on PG&E’s website, that cost was because I used my heater. I’ve since stopped using my heater. Have you ever slept fully clothed under several blankets just so you don’t get a cold and have to miss work? Have you ever drank a liter of water before going to bed so you could fall asleep without waking up a few hours later with stomach pains because the last time you ate was at work? I woke up today with stomach pains. I made myself a bowl of rice.
Look, I’ll make you a deal. You don’t have to pay my phone bill. I’ll just disconnect my phone. And I’ll disconnect my home internet, too, even though it’s the only way I can do work for my freelance gig that I haven’t been able to do since I moved here because I’m constantly too stressed to focus on anything but going to sleep as soon as I’m not at work…
Let’s make sure I have the facts in order, here. When this young woman took a new job she was under the impression that she wouldn’t have to get a second job to cover basic expenses like food, rent, and utilities. We now live in a low-wage economy where entry-level employees are expected to work overtime and weekends without proper compensation. And by the way, Talia Jane’s letter concludes with an update that says she was fired the same day she wrote to the CEO.
Instead of expressing sympathy, most people commenting on the letter criticized Talia Jane for whining and feeling “entitled.” Faux News Channel just piled on, basically claiming that employees have no right to expect any kind of living wage – especially not in San Francisco. Faux News host Sandra Smith is a wealthy former hedge-funder. Stefanie Williams is just clueless.
The MM story got picked up by Raw Story, and here is a choice comment:
Wow … a 29 year old who still lives at home with her parents and works as a bartender lecturing a 25 year old college graduate who is living on her own about entitlements and bootstraps and personal responsibility…
Two hours after the letter was posted online, she was fired. The company said her termination was not related to the letter, however Ms Jane claimed that she was told by Yelp’s HR department that her letter violated company terms of conduct.
Bashing millennials and shaming those who claim to be struggling financially has grown in popularity, seemingly in response to public attention on income inequality.
I have a shiny degree with my name on it, lots of knowledge about things I’m passionate about, and a whole lot of debt.
…When some people see things like Talia Jane’s piece about Yelp, they basically orgasm with self-righteousness. It gives them an excuse to hate on millennials and talk about what hard workers they are and how lazy everyone else is.