When 4 Jobs Aren’t Enough: Why We Need a Living Wage

Robin Marty

By all accounts, Maria Fernandes was a hard worker. A person would have to be, in order to keep up with four different jobs. It’s that hard work that killed the 32-year old-woman, according to news reports, as the exhausted low wage worker died of inhaling fumes while grabbing a short nap in her car between work shifts.

Fernades was juggling jobs, two of which were at local Dunkin Donuts businesses, and trying to sleep in parking lots in the moments between the end of one and the beginning of another. Her last attempt at rest was fatal, as officers report she must have succumbed to fumes of a gas can in her car that had tipped over, as well as carbon monoxide from the engine she kept running.

Fernades allegedly kept the can for emergencies because she had once run out of gas traveling between shifts.

“She used to work like three shifts every day,” one co-worker told the local news. “Sometimes she wouldn’t sleep for five days.”

Fernandes’s case of working to death may seem extreme, but, as NJ.com reports, it’s a situation that many could be facing as the economy recovers but high paying and full time work still has dwindled into nothing. Many are working multiple shifts at a variety of low wage, part time positions in an attempt to earn enough to survive, a problem that is increased by the lack of benefits like health care insurance and paid sick time that isn’t available unless you have full-time employment.

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