Since the minimum wage passed, Crystal Thompson has been able to afford her own place.
Since the minimum wage passed, Crystal Thompson has been able to afford her own place. Courtesy of Crystal Thompson

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I keep on seeing news about this report that says workers in Seattle are hurt by the $15 minimum wage. But I'm a worker in Seattle, I'm making $15 now—and that report sure doesn’t look like my life.

I’ve been working for Domino’s Pizza since 2009 and active with Working Washington since 2013. My official title is shift manager, but I do pretty much everything: open the store, answer phones, work the cash register, manage the orders, run the ovens, dispatch the drivers, deal with customer complaints. Whatever needs to get done, I do it.

I still remember the day an organizer came into the store and talked to us about raising the minimum wage. It seemed like a great idea. Back then, I couldn’t even afford my own place—sometimes I had to get a payday loan just to pay the phone company so they wouldn’t shut my phone off. I was trapped in a bad cycle, and I wanted to get out of it.

I knew we had to do something, so I started going to meetings to talk. Back then, we weren’t even discussing a number to raise the wage to. We just knew it had to go up. The first time I went to a protest and saw those big signs calling for raising the wage to $15, I couldn’t believe it. Fifteen dollars an hour—was that even possible? It just seemed like the people in power were way too greedy to let that happen. I remember everyone saying it could never pass. Then they said if it did pass, it would put everything out of business and we’d all lose our jobs. Now that we won, they’re trying to tell me I’m actually doing worse now?

When the minimum wage passed I remember it felt like it was going to take forever to get to $15, but the time went by really quickly. I have my own place now, and my kids get their own room. I’m saving to buy a car, and I can afford to take my family out to dinner sometimes. My bills are all paid—and no more payday loans!

The study says workers have fewer hours with the new minimum wage, but my hours have been steady, and they give me the days I want so I can get my kids from school when I need to. Nobody’s hours have been cut at my store. We’re actually having a hard time finding people to work here, we’re growing really fast and not enough people are applying. Business has gone way up since the wage was increased. We were so busy we had to cut our delivery area in half. They opened another Domino’s at the corner of MLK and Othello to cover the extra business, and there are more opening in White Center, Alki, and SoDo.

When I see how quickly we’re growing, I can’t really understand how someone could be saying things are worse for us. Apparently though, if we weren’t a chain and we opened up another store like we did, that would show up that we all lost our jobs in this study. But we aren’t even in there in the first place! How is someone studying the effect of the $15 minimum wage without actually looking at the people who needed it bad enough that they went on strike to win it?

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I don’t think $15 has fixed everything. It doesn’t end poverty. My rent’s gone up $400 a month over the last couple years. I still need food stamps and Section 8 to get by, but the fact that I have some savings gives me a little peace of mind. My goal is to get off assistance, and I’ll get there. They just gave me another raise, for 50 cents an hour.

We’ve been making some plans for the future. Once my mom gets out of the hospital, we’re talking about a family vacation—taking the kids to Universal Studios. I’ve never been on a real vacation before. And my youngest is eighteen months, but I’m thinking about going back to school when he’s a little bit older. I want to become a Spanish interpreter, and I hear Bellevue Community College has a good program. I took Spanish for four years in school, and I’m pretty good at it. I think I’d be great at that line of work.

Crystal Thompson works at Domino's Pizza and serves as a leader for Working Washington.