Fred Mason is president of the Maryland and District of Columbia AFL-CIO and a member of the Master Your Card African American Advisory Board.
With the nationwide factory closings in 1981, I found myself working any job that would allow me to support my family. Starting out with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in hand and 13 years of manufacturing experience under my belt, I never could have imagined the route I would take in life.
I have been an industrial worker, a taxi-cab driver, a waiter, a bartender, a home repairman and an auto salesman. I learned that the harder you have to work, the harder it is to get ahead – and the easier it is to get behind. There’s not a lot of help for working people. We have to work harder to help them help advance themselves, their families and communities.
My situation was not uncommon 36 years ago – and it’s not uncommon today. It’s too common. Living paycheck to paycheck and doing whatever it takes to get by is a routine part of life for many families in Baltimore and across the country.