Shanna Tippen was another hourly worker at the bottom of the nation’s economy, looking forward to a 25-cent bump in the Arkansas minimum wage that would make it easier for her to buy diapers for her grandson. When I wrote about her in The Post last month, she said the minimum wage hike would bring her a bit of financial relief. (she’d need to earn nearly $12 an hour to live above the poverty line.)
In 1968, somebody could live above the poverty line with a family of three on a full-time minimum wage job. Now that same worker is below the poverty line with a family of two.
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At the Days Inn, the general manager, Herry Patel, says he opposed the minimum wage increase. “[The referendum] was bad,” he said. “Bad for Arkansas. Everybody wants free money in Pine Bluff.” He pays all of his housekeepers and front desk employees the minimum wage,
Tippen has a do-everything job. She works at the front desk. She cleans up the continental breakfast bar. She helps customers with fresh towels or Internet problems. If working the evening shift she’ll walk around the property once or twice, playing the role of a de facto night watchman.
Several days later, after I’d spent additional time with Tippen, Patel called me and threatened to sue if an article was published. Tippen, though, felt it was important to tell her story; she said many people shared her experience earning the minimum, and she had nothing negative to say about her employer.