by David Ramsey
Shanna Tippen was another hourly worker at the bottom of the nation’s economy, looking forward to a 25-cent bump in the Arkansas minimum wage that would make it easier for her to buy diapers for her grandson. When I wrote about her in The Post last month, she said the minimum wage hike would bring her a bit of financial relief, but it wouldn’t lift her above the poverty line.
She called me the other day to say she didn’t get to enjoy the 25-cent hike for long. After the story came out, she says she was fired from her job for talking to the Post.
He said I was stupid and dumb for talking to [The Post]. He cussed me and asked me why you wrote the article. I said, ‘Because he’s a reporter; that’s what he does.’ He said it was wrong for me to talk to you.
Patel introduced Tippen to me. During a trip to Pine Bluff, Ark., in mid-January, I went to numerous businesses across town and found Patel in the hotel lobby and introduced myself. There, I interviewed him for several minutes. Patel then suggested I speak with Tippen, who was cleaning up the continental breakfast bar. I interviewed her during her work shift, during a slow afternoon as she manned the front desk.
Several days later, after I’d spent additional time with Tippen, Patel called me and threatened to sue if an article was published. Tippen, though, felt it was important to tell her story; she said many people shared her experience earning the minimum, and she had nothing negative to say about her employer.