Cross-Posted from Airport Workers United.
On the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the minimum wage, 20 minimum wage or tipped workers were invited to the White House, including Anishia Anderson of Houston, Texas.
Anishia works as a wheelchair assistant at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas. Anishia has escorted elderly or disabled passengers to their flights and around the airport for the past five years. For her service, she is paid $7.25 an hour, the federally mandated minimum wage.
Despite working full time, Anishia earns about $900 a month, an amount too small to make ends meet and she finds herself facing a growing mountain of debt. Recently, Anishia had no other choice but to put a $3,000 dental bill on the credit card—a bill she does not think she will ever be able to pay off at her current wage.
Anishia’s health has declined and she has been diagnosed with a thyroid condition. Without access to employer-provided health insurance, Anishia has been unable to receive treatment for the thyroid condition because even the doctor’s visits alone are too expensive. She also receives no sick days—meaning that if she does not go to work when she is sick; she loses a day’s pay – a difficult choice when every penny is budgeted.
Anishia’s story is just one of the 452,000 Texans who work for minimum wage. According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May, Texas has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the US.
Anishia’s story also highlights the problem of poverty jobs at our airports, where passenger service workers are paid as little as $12,500 a year. This is in stark contrast to the massive wealth Houston’s airports claim to generate for our region, ringing in at $27.5 billion annually. Workers like Anishia worry that without training and the proper equipment needed to do their jobs they are not serving passengers well. With this in mind, Anishia has begun to form a union with her co-workers to ensure airport employees receive proper training on emergency preparedness and safety.