Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

Good Union Job

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Oscar Cerrillo grew up in Mexico City and came to Seattle in 1990. He has worked at the Red Apple for 13 years and at a second restaurant job for 17 years. He works 60 - 75 hours a week, and helps his wife with her cleaning business
n his days off, to help send his son and daughter to university. 

Oscar Cerrillo

They said they might have work for us elsewhere. I don’t know if that will happen or not. I also work in a restaurant and my wife has a cleaning business. My daughter is 24 and my son is 19. Between the two jobs, I work about 65, 70 hours a week. And then I help my wife on the weekend. My son is about to start university. It’s expensive. So expensive. Honestly, I have no idea how we’re gonna afford this coming year, with him starting school. Also, there’s a huge difference between my job at the Red Apple and my job in the restaurant. Here we have a union. There we don’t. 

For the people who don’t have other jobs lined up, what are they going to do? I mean, for me, it’s sad that the store is closing, but a lot of people are thinking, "How sad that I’m losing my job.” I can get another job. There are people who are older. It’s hard to find work. That’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed. I’ve worked enough other jobs that don’t offer any benefits.

The truth is, I didn’t go there (Red Apple) looking for work. My wife worked there. They asked me to come work for them. I didn’t really want to work there. I thought I’d give it a shot for a few days. And I stayed. 13 years. The truth is, the work is easy, and my coworkers are really nice. The owner is a great guy. Compared to other jobs I’ve had, this work feels more like family. It’s different. And I get to talk to people. I’m kind of shy, but this job has changed that. Now I have an easier time talking to people. At first that was hard.