The agony of a single parent on strike
Rent, food, 3 kids and $55 a week
August 15, 1997
Web posted at: 10:22 p.m. EDT (0222 GMT)
From Correspondent Brian Jenkins
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Striking UPS workers in Queens, New York, lined up Thursday to get their first checks from the Teamsters Union's strike relief fund.
They knew the money wouldn't go very far, still...
"Fifty-five dollars?" says Lillian Monroe when she gets a look at the check. "What am I gonna do with this?"
"I don't know, Lillian," says a friend. "I was thinking the same thing."
Lillian Monroe, 31 and single, has her 14-year-old son, Noel, and 10-year-old daughter, Jennifer, with her when she picks up her check. They take it to a place that cashes checks, and the owner is waiving the usual transaction fee for UPS workers.
"Thank you," Monroe says.
"Good luck," says the cashier.
"OK," says Monroe.
'Can I get some credit?'
Monroe drives to Brooklyn and goes into a corner market.
"Fruit Loops? What else?" She glances at the price on the box. "Wow! They're expensive. What else?"
"Captain Crunch," says Noel.
The few things they buy come to $15.21, and Monroe jokes with the cashier. "Can I get some credit?"
Monroe works part-time at the market between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., earning much less than the $11 an hour she makes as a part-time driver for UPS.
Her 15-hour weeks at UPS brought in about $530 a month. She also gets $1,150 a month in child support.
"At one time," she says, "I was working three part-time jobs: supermarket, day care where my son attends, and UPS."
And? "I was tired."
Lillian Monroe is scared
As the strike drags on, leaving her without health insurance and lacking a sizable chunk of her income, Monroe is scared. She's afraid she'll lose her phone service, afraid she'll fall too far behind on her rent, and afraid she'll have her Ford Explorer repossessed.
She has other concerns, too.
"My kids will be going to school soon," she says. "They need clothes. They need transportation."
Her youngest, 4-year-old Jonavon, is in day care. The Teamsters Local wrote a letter for Monroe, asking the day care center to lower its fee while the strike is on, and the day care center agreed.
Despite the financial pressures, Lillian say she will not cross the picket line. She's put in three years at UPS, and she knows it could take many more before she gets a full-time position. She also knows that she could be laid off when the strike is over.
"That's agony," she says. "That's agony."