Luis Chiliquinga and Miguelina Solano are employees of the McDonald’s in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. They spoke during a protest on the southeast lawn of the U.S. Capitol on October 4, 2013.
My name is Luis Chiliquinga. I’m an American citizen, but I come from Ecuador. I work for the McDonald’s in the Air and Space Museum. I started this year, so I have worked there for less than a year. Depending on the intensity of the business, I work four or five days a week. I’m a cooker.
I’m a father. I have a family. We all work in different jobs to support each other, but this is my only job, the only job I have for now. They pay me $8.25 an hour. I get paid bi-weekly. The last time I got paid was Wednesday of last week.
Because of the shutdown, we’re closed now. Those of us who work there, we have no salary this month. All the income is gone. I cannot make any money during this time.
All of us in the McDonald’s work under a federal contract. There are about 80 of us working there. I haven’t spoken to them since the shutdown started, because the managers called me at home and notified me that the business is closed. Since then I haven’t come into work.
I’m here with my co-workers now, at this protest. We’re here because the problem affects all of us. It’s not possible to communicate with everyone. But a lot of my co-workers are here.
How do I feel about the shutdown? What can I tell you? It makes me angry. Because I’m thinking, “How will I pay the bills next month?” I’m not making any money now. The museum is totally closed.
And it really makes me sad because I’m not working, and angry because the politicians in the United States don’t care about the people. They don’t care about the workers. They only care about their particular interests. They play with the necessities of the people. That’s the reason I want to say, to the government, to all the branches of the government, and to all the politicians in the United States: Stop playing with the necessities of the workers.
My name is Miguelina Solano. I work at the McDonald’s at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. I’ve worked there for two years, almost three. I’m married. My husband works as a security guard in the museum. We don’t have any children.
The shutdown has affected me a lot, especially economically. We don’t have enough money to pay the rent, and I don’t have money to send to my family in the Dominican Republic. My mom and my four sisters live in the Dominican Republic. I’m the only one in the family in the United States. I usually send them between one and two hundred dollars every month. Now I can’t send them anything. And they don’t have any other means of support, just the money they receive from me.
Working at McDonald’s is the only job I have. I don’t work anywhere else. I make $8.64 an hour. After I send money back to my family, we have 150 dollars left for the month, plus my husband’s income. But, as I said, he’s not working either.
I don’t get health care benefits in my job. I don’t get sick days, vacation days, nothing. If I get sick and miss work, I have to bring proof from the doctor. The Affordable Care Act would help me tremendously. It would help all of us who work because we don’t have access to any health care at all right now.
The shutdown makes me very sad. It makes me feel hopeless, like my hands are tied. I don’t know what to do and I feel like I can’t do anything. There is no solution, and the politicians don’t agree on anything. The politicians are only doing things for themselves. They’re not doing anything for us.
I’ve been following the news. Let me tell you: It feels like the whole country is broken. Nothing is working anymore. The whole city, the whole system. A lot of workers depend on these jobs, and they have all stopped.
If I could speak to President Obama, I would have so many things to say to him! I would say to him, “Don’t let the Republicans win. Use your position as the president to keep health care reform going.”
Also, we are part of a workers’ campaign to ask President Obama to sign an executive order to guarantee a living wage to workers under federal contracts. Not just a minimum wage, but a living wage. So I would ask him to sign that order.
If I could speak to the congressmen inside the Capitol, I would ask them to think about the really poor workers. They barely make it. I would ask them to take them into consideration. I would ask the politicians not to think only about themselves.