They are waitresses, department store clerks, and fast-food workers. They clean office bathrooms and airplane cabins, care for the elderly, and serve hors d’oeuvres at high-end fund-raisers. One in five workers in the state, the majority of them over 25, make $12 an hour or less.
As employers squeeze costs, these low-wage earners frequently can only get part-time work without benefits, some with irregular schedules that make second jobs and child care arrangements difficult. They have no protections from having hours cut and they receive no severance pay if they are let go without warning.