Hard Earned – Episodes 3 and 4
Al Jazeera (2015)
Hard Earned episodes 3 and 4 (“Minimum Wage” and “Dreams Deferred”) follow the families introduced in the first two episodes (see Reality TV That Depicts Reality) as they make strenuous efforts to improve their life situation.
Chicago: DJ gets fed up with ongoing racial harassment (from his supervisors) he experiences at Walgreen’s and thinks strongly of joining the military. Fortunately his family dissuades him. He quits his Walgreen’s job and becomes a union organizer for the Fight for Fifteen Campaign* – where he makes twice what Walgreen’s paid him.
Montgomery: Jose and his girlfriend continue to move back and forth (on a weekly basis) between their parents’ homes when they fail to qualify for a mortgage on a new home. Jose struggles to pass a math class he needs to qualify for an associate degree in broadcasting.
Milwaukee: we learn that Percy and Marge have been forced to apply for bankruptcy to prevent their home from being foreclosed on. After 13 years of making payments on a 9% mortgage, they still owe the original $79,000 they borrowed.
Silicon Valley: Hilton, who works as a dishwasher for Google (through a temp agency), finds a better paying second job as an assistant restaurant manager. His girlfriend experiences pregnancy complications (which cost them $13,000) and loses her twins.
Evergreen Park. Emilia unsuccessfully applies for 48 better paying jobs in a month. Owing to the ongoing recession, the restaurant business is really slow. This drastically reduces her tips, which comprise over half her wages. (The Illinois minimum wage for restaurant workers is $4.95.) A friend helps her get a part-time evening job in telephone sales.
*Fight for Fifteen is a national campaign for a “living wage” of $15 an hour.