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For some Coloradans, Black Friday is a day to shop for deals, carve powder turns on the slopes, or recover from Turkey Day feasts. For others, the day after Thanksgiving offers an opportunity to spotlight the difficulties of hourly workers. On Friday, November 28, at 10:30 a.m., Walmart workers and supporters are staging a protest and parade outside the Lakewood store to ask that full-time employees earn $15 an hour, a wage increase that would help workers move away from the national poverty guidelines.
We caught up with Walmart hourly worker Lashanda Myrick, 38, after she’d worked the night shift to chat about raising two kids, overdrafts, and good managers.
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
5280: What part of the metro area do you live in?
Lashanda Myrick: I live around DIA in east Denver and have been there for four or five years. But I’ve been in Denver all my life.
Is this a bad time? Should you be heading home to sleep right now?
On my days off I get a boost of energy. I don’t go to sleep until later on.
You used to work days as a cashier and in customer service. Was it hard to switch to nights?
I’ve been working night shifts since May. It wasn’t really hard for me to transition over because I have insomnia.
Why did you make the shift?
The reason why I transitioned over is that I was promised the customer service manager position, and he went on to hire someone off the street. That put me in a bind. We’re already making pennies. On top of that I had a lot of bills to pay. I wanted to make more money. [Note: Myrick had been making about $8.50 per hour while working days, and now makes about $2.20 more per hour on the night shift.]
Is it hard to take care of your kids and bills on that income? I’ve got a toddler and can’t believe how quickly he grows out of clothes.
I’ve got a college student and a daughter in middle school. Just wait until they hit that growth spurt! You’ll be spending money every week. That how it was with my son. I was like, “Oh my god, are you going to stop growing?”
Do you get an employee discount to help with that?
I only get a five percent discount. Now that it’s the holidays, I’m going to get a 25 percent discount…it’s not like we get a discount on everything. I don’t get a discount on certain foods. I get discounts on clothes and general merchandise. But most of the stuff that people buy every day—food—we don’t get a discount on.
How do you make it work week to week?
To tell you the truth, I overdraw my account. That happens every time I get paid. Most of my overdrafts these days probably total up to $150 every week when I’m buying food. I get food stamps, but because I’m working I don’t get as much as I used to. I break it down over the paycheck and it’s still not working.
Why not look for another job?
Right now, this is the only option. I lost my car. I want to find another job, but most of the jobs I can do are so far out. To catch the bus and be back in time to get my daughter from school? It’s not going to work. Right now I’m stuck.
What makes it worth it?
I just want to say that not all managers that work at Walmart are bad. There are some managers that are really in the employees’ corners. I’m lucky to have some at my job.