Speech Sept. 20, Kimberly Givens

I’m Kimberly Givens, candidate for State Representative district 7.

The segment of the working class that I represent are the hospitality workers. The folks that work in hotels, restaurants and casinos. Up until Covid I was one of three shop stewards at my job.

One job should be enough! This phrase has two meanings. The obvious “you shouldn't need a second job to get by”… but the other meaning is in the work place itself. Up until the pandemic I worked at the Hilton Garden Inn in Detroit Downtown, part of Hilton Corporations Worldwide, the second largest hotel chain in the world. I was hired in as the sole banquet server but I trained at bartending, hosting, server for breakfast, and server for dinner. I had four different job classifications, and I had to remember to change my classification at the time clock so that I could be paid for the classification I was working at the time. This is true for many of the employees. The dishwasher, needed to know how to prep food also. The housekeepers all trained in laundry. Front desk agents were trained at light housekeeping.

We were trained to do these jobs so they didn't have to hire other people. Now, the job I was hired in to do was banquet server, I was on my feet all day, just like most of the jobs in the hotel. So after working 12 hours sometimes I was asked to work another 6 hours for the dinner crowd.

Why should this be? The working class has the power to make sure people are hired in to make other workers’ jobs easier. We have to imagine a different world. We, the working class, have the power to change how we work.

One of the questions asked of the candidates during the campaign was what do we do about poverty? I just roll my eyes at this question. What do you do about poverty? Stop paying people poverty wages! If I was paid 30 dollars an hour for all MY labor would I be in poverty? If the housekeeper were paid a wage adjusted to inflation would they be in poverty?

Corporations keep people in poverty. There is only one way to make sure folks are paid a living wage. The workers have to demand it. The workers have to realize they are the means of production. I used to joke with my co-workers that we better get to work so Paris (Hilton) can jet set and lay on the beach. But I would say it too, so my fellow coworkers could understand that we are working so one person can sit around.

Please understand that the working class and only the working class has the power to change how we work.

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