Delivering Strike Notices (02:18)
Chicago union organizer DJ Jackson prepares for a strike. He quit his Walgreen's job to campaign for a $15 minimum wage, but has to get a car— a new financial stress. It will take him months to save money for the purchase.
Aging and Healthcare Costs (03:46)
Milwaukee custodian Percy Evans gets his car fixed. His wife Beverly, a social worker, recently had a stroke and knee surgery and owes $8,000 in co-payments. Their retirement income will not cover medical bills and they may lose their home to foreclosure.
Forced to Mature (02:24)
Following a miscarriage, Diana Gonzalez got a job at a grocer's in Silicon Valley. She was afraid to go out at first, but has started taking the bus and wants to learn English.
Career Advancement (02:45)
Gonzalez's boyfriend Hilton Kennedy III bought a used car for $1,000. He has been promoted to management at Sweet Tomatoes after passing a food safety exam. He quit his cafeteria job at Google— giving him less income but more time for Gonzalez.
New Home Owners (03:01)
Maryland residents Elizabeth and Jose Merino are feeling financially strained. They are refurbishing the basement for Elizabeth's parents and have adopted a dog. Jose needs to pass a math class for an associate's degree in radio communications, but struggles with the material.
Threatened with Termination (02:49)
After her Walgreen's shift, Takita Akins and her children have an hour commute home. Her boyfriend DJ works long hours at his union job. Akins has undiagnosed abdominal pain, but worries she will be fired for taking time to see a doctor.
Job Prospects (01:47)
Evans is a custodian at a small family owned machine shop. Managers and co-workers treat him with respect. He is employed through a temp agency, but hopes to become a regular employee.
Serving at Roseangelo's (02:23)
Emilia Stancati works at the pizzeria where her daughter Nicole Palmbos used to work. Palmbos celebrates her birthday. Stancati missed Palmbos' early childhood due to drug addiction; they now have a good relationship.
Operation Snowball (01:38)
Stancati has been invited to speak to high school students about her experience recovering from substance abuse. A peer network helps young people navigate their teenage years.
Father-Son Challenges (04:28)
Jackson and his father Derrick Poole have not seen each other for 14 months. Jackson needs Poole's help finding a car, to keep his job. Poole comes to Jackson's pick-up basketball game and advises him not to rush things in life.
Healthcare Challenge (03:08)
Jackson's son is baptized at their church. Akins' undiagnosed pain continues; she worries she will be fired from her job at Walgreen's for taking sick days.
D for Diploma (03:15)
The Merinos are having car trouble but cannot afford a mechanic. Jose skips his community college graduation, not knowing the results of his math final. He learns that he has a D— enough to pass the class and graduate.
Spreading Awareness about Addiction (05:32)
Stancati speaks to young people about her experience with substance abuse, starting as a teenager. After a standing ovation, many attendees tell her that she is inspirational.
Inspired to Counsel (01:21)
Stancati receives letters from young people thanking her for speaking about her experience with substance abuse. She hopes to share with other school groups.
Setbacks and Hope for the Future (02:18)
The radio station where Merino interned has hired him for occasional work. Elizabeth is pregnant, and he cannot give up his full time job as a clerical worker. Kennedy has taken a second job to pay off Gonzalez's medical bills.
Fight for $15 Campaign (02:41)
Evans occasionally joins his retired friends fishing. When his wife retires, he will work part time as long as he can. Jackson organizes a fast food workers' strike in downtown Chicago. States and cities raised minimum wages in 2014.
"Hard Earned" Epilogue (02:51)
Stancati gets her motorcycle fixed. View work and life status updates of Stancati, Jackson, Akins, Evans, Kennedy, Gonzalez, and the Merinos.
Credits: New Beginnings: Episode 6—Hard Earned (00:40)
Credits: New Beginnings: Episode 6—Hard Earned
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