The Edmond Sun

Local News

December 2, 2013

Candidate, spouse settle in for ‘Living Wage Experiment’

EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a three-part series examining Democratic candidate Cathy Cummings’ Living Wage Experiment in November. Reprinted by permission by The Vista.

Democratic lieutenant governor hopeful Cathy Cummings removed a basket of fried chicken from popping grease in the deli department at Buy For Less. Her hands, cracked and blistered from a long night spent washing dishes and a chilling bicycle ride to work, transferred the hot chicken into a silver pan, polished and ready for the display case.

“I feel like the majority of people in Oklahoma are struggling with something,” Cummings said. “I think it comes down to that you can’t make it on a minimum wage job.”

Cummings and her husband, Sean, left their suburban home on Nov. 1 to begin “The Living Wage Experiment,” an attempt to bring awareness to the minimum wage workers’ everyday struggles. The couple rented out a $425 one-bedroom apartment by the state fairgrounds in Oklahoma City and found minimum wage jobs.

Cummings is working at Buy For Less off 23rd Street and Pennsylvania. BFL pays their employees a “living wage” of  $9 an hour. A “living wage” is considered to be an amount of pay high enough to maintain a normal standard of living. Minimum wage in Oklahoma is currently $7.25 an hour. Cummings will work 30-32 hours a week, which will equal out to be one full-time minimum wage job. She said she believes the store is a great model for Oklahoma companies and that if more companies would pay a “living wage” it would lead to less people on government-assisted programs.

Her husband is working for Uber, an application-based transportation service.

Cummings and her husband have estimated their take-home-pay, after taxes, for two minimum wage workers to be $2,144 a month. After paying all of their expenses, including rent, utilities, car payment, car insurance, health insurance and medicine, they were left with $228 for food and gas the remainder of the month.

Cummings said they have been sharing one car and a bicycle.

Cummings said she got the idea for this project after working as a lunch lady in the Oklahoma City Public Schools system during the summer. Her first paycheck of $259 for 39 hours, sparked the question “how are these people making it, how are they supporting their families?”

Chairman of the political science department at Oklahoma City Community College and adjunct political science professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, Markus Smith, said he thinks the experiment is a great way to shed light on the difficulties of living on minimum wage.

“Unless you actually work for minimum wage, you have no idea how to really survive on it,” Smith said.

Cummings owns and runs Vito’s Italian Restaurant and Sean Cummings Irish Pub in Oklahoma City.

She feels the need to shed light on the low unemployment rate in Oklahoma.

According to Oklahoma’s government website, Oklahoma’s unemployment rate has held close to 5 percent for the past three years.

“With that low of unemployment, that tells me everybody’s working,” Cummings said. “So if they’re working and they still have to live on food stamps and all other kinds of government-assisted programs, then why are they not making it?”

With the sound of struggle in her voice, Cummings said she challenges any politician to do “The Living Wage Experiment,” not to give them publicity, but to give them empathy.

“If I’m going to be second in charge of the state, I want to know how people are living, what their everyday struggles are,” Cummings said.

Smith applauded Cathy in exposing a common reality to Oklahomans who could relate to the struggles that Cathy and her husband are enduring under this experiment.

“If you do not know what it means or feels like to live on minimum wage, then you are not able to relate to these individuals and simply turn a blind eye to the issue at hand,” Smith said.

Cummings said she wants to be a voice for the people. She said she wants them to know that she is concerned about their welfare and that they can voice their concerns to her.

Like many minimum wage working Oklahomans, Cummings’ eyes expressed the fear of living paycheck-to-paycheck, of not knowing what lies next. With under $80 left for food and gas this month, Cummings said she remains hopeful.

 “The main thing that I want people to take away from this,” Cummings said, “is that you need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to really understand what they’re going through.”

Elections are scheduled for 2014. A primary election will be June 24 with a runoff election, if needed, set for Aug. 26.

The general election is set for Nov. 4.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • jc_Earp Marlin 2 - photo credit Noel Winters.jpg Shootout of a sale

    An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 60.
    Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 11.6.12 Mother and Cub (2).jpg UCO forensic researcher answers key question

    After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
    “You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • sales tax holiday.jpg Oklahoma sales tax takes a holiday

    Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 and ending at midnight Aug. 3, Oklahomans will be able to participate in a sales tax holiday giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain clothing and shoes free of sales tax.
    Yes, retailers may not charge tax, including state and local sales taxes on items that are tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday weekend. The sales of clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 are exempted from sales taxes.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Karan & Rwanda.jpg Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs

    Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
    Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • MS_new pastor_Page_1.tiff Local church welcomes new pastor

    For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
    Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • pm_Ramona Paul.jpg Keith, 5 others to receive service awards

    The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
    Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Anderson Properties continues to grow

    Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties recently announced the acquisition of Tulsa-based Prudential Alliance Realty, an eight-office, 150-agent brokerage operating in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and Edmond.
    The transaction gives Anderson Properties, a full-service real estate agency a total of 38 offices and more than 600 agents.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one

    Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
    Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
    In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.

    July 26, 2014

  • MS_Andy Billups.jpg Local man relies on experience in July 4 emergency

    Andy Billups just happened to have gained experience as a combat zone firefighter/medic while he was serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq.
    The Edmond businessman just happened to have a friend with a place on Grand Lake where he has been viewing Independence Day fireworks for a number of years, and he just happened to be there July 4.
    And he just happened to be relaxing on a hammock when he heard a some kids making a commotion.
    Located two blocks east of Disney on State Highway 28 in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range in northeast Oklahoma, the 59,000-plus surface acre Grand Lake is known for its state parks, marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • -1.jpg 5-year-old learns valuable lessons

    It is never too soon to learn about giving and receiving. An Edmond 5-year-old recently learned about both.
    Kendall Kingry will be entering kindergarten at Will Rogers Elementary this fall and she is already looking forward to November.
    “I get to go to Disneyland in November,” Kendall said.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Poll

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
Undecided
     View Results