Friday, July 22, 2011

Number of the Day

Zero: Massachusetts special education paraprofessional Kathy Meltsakos' take-home pay after benefits and taxes come out of her $10.74 an hour salary.
Initially earning $13.74 for a 35-hour week with the Pentucket schools, Meltsakos paid 20 percent of her insurance, which was manageable, and she did that for 10 years until laid off in June 2010. While looking for work she received unemployment benefits. She was later rehired at a lower pay rate, with five less hours, and with a higher contribution for her healthcare.

"I was placed at the bottom of the scale at $10.74 an hour for a 30-hour week. After taxes, I paid 60 percent of my medical insurance. My pay stubs from February to June 24 (the end of the school year) show no net take home pay since February. Oh – and the insurance rates went up in May."

By April she was frustrated with no take home pay and knew she had to get a second job. "My husband is doing everything he can but we have kids in college and of course the regular bills to pay. I tried a pizza shop, then found work with a discount store, twenty hours a week during school, and a few more now that school is out. They pay a little more per hour but no benefits." For the summer she landed a job with special ed kids for 20 hours a week at $14 an hour.

"I'm not the only ESP worker in the position of working two or three jobs to try to make ends meet," Meltsakos said. "We are not looking for a free ride. But we have to question a system that forces workers in any profession to stitch together several pay streams to make ends meet. ... We're taught from an early age not to talk a whole lot about earnings and comparing our salaries. It's not 'polite'. Well, we've had about thirty years of being polite about work and paychecks and look where that has got us."
[H/T to @Brunocerous.]