Before his political career, U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey worked at Burger King, as a sacker at Kroger and as a busboy at the Black Eyed Pea restaurant.
Now he works on Capitol Hill, but once a month, he does odd jobs. Not for money, but as a way to see labor and business through the eyes of his constituents.
Veasey, a Democrat who represents parts of Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie and Oak Cliff, takes time to work his constituents’ jobs. He’s worked at UPS, American Airlines, a family-owned taquería and QuikTrip, among others. Recently, he got busy steaming dresses at a Jefferson Boulevard quinceañera shop.
“People come all the way from Oklahoma and elsewhere to buy quiceañera dresses on Jefferson,” Veasey says. “Oak Cliff is known for that in the southwest region.”
Stints on the job allow Veasey to see first hand the struggles of working for the $7.25 minimum wage, finding childcare and managing transportation. He also sees the determination and work ethic of small business owners as well as the gratefulness of employees at big companies who receive cushy health benefits and good salaries.
Veasey grew up in Fort Worth, and after his parents divorce when he was 10, his mom raised three children mostly on her own.
He started working at Burger King for $3.35 an hour, then the federal minimum wage, when he was about 15.
“I never made enough to buy a car, but it was still nice to go to the Gap and buy a pair of jeans that my mom wouldn’t have been able to afford,” he says.
There are plenty of people who don’t want their children to have jobs, on the theory that going to school and making good grades is job enough. But Veasey says he thinks working a part-time or summer job is invaluable for most kids.
“If you work hard, you appreciate the things you have,” he says.