Kobra Oden: “We work hard keeping Philadelphia safe…”
I work as a security officer for a private security company protecting Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My starting salary with this company was about $9.15 an hour, and now after 6 years I still only make $9.50 an hour.
There are many reasons why I am organizing with my co-workers but the one that is most important to me is affordable health insurance for myself and my family. I am a single mother of 3. I have 2 sons and a daughter, and I’m a grandmother of a 4 year old boy and a 6 month old baby. My 17 year old son is always asking me to get health insurance because he needs to see the doctor. Right now, this is not an option due to my low wages and the too-high cost of the insurance provided by my employer.
This is exemplified by a situation I had 3 years ago where I injured my foot and went to Temple Hospital for treatment. Although I knew I was uninsured, I had no choice but to go the emergency room due to the pain in my foot from what turned out to be a stress fracture. Soon after, I received a $10,000 bill from the same hospital I am employed to protect. I don’t know how I’m going to pay it.
Sometimes I feel trapped because on one hand I like my job and my co-workers, but on the other hand it feels like I am losing a battle trying to survive on $9.50. I am struggling very badly with my rent and bills; I have creditors and debt collectors harassing me all the time. Most of my money goes toward keeping a roof over my kids’ heads and to put food on the table.
We work hard keeping Philadelphia safe every day, but we can’t even put food on the table or pay our basic bills.
We need better wages to be able to provide security for our families and better training so we’re best prepared to handle emergencies.