My name is Monique Warren and I’ve been a baggage handler at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston for the past two years, but I’m only making $9/hr.
I am fighting for myself and my fellow airport workers for the right to unionize and get higher wages because I believe every worker deserves job security and to be able to provide for ourselves and our families. We’ve been in this fight long before the pandemic and now it is even more important. During this pandemic, it’s been easy to forget about the people who were struggling before Covid-19. Now as COVID deaths and cases begin to rise again, it’s been tough knowing that even on the brink of another shutdown, at the beginning of each month, rent is still due and that’s not including other utilities.
"I was furloughed and got evicted from my apartment
and had to move in with a friend to survive."
Not to mention, I’m still trying to keep food on the table. Without any financial relief from our government, I’m forced to pick and choose between my family's basic needs and also face dealing with late fee charges because we have to sacrifice paying one bill over another.
Last year, I was beyond elated when the Mayor passed the executive order to increase wages on a pathway to $15/hr. I felt like our demands for a living wage were finally heard. But then the pandemic hit, I was furloughed and got evicted from my apartment and had to move in with a friend to survive.
I like my job and being able to work, so the fear of another wave of COVID-19 surging and a possible shutdown makes me anxious. During the last shutdown, one of the terminals at our airport was impacted due to low travel, at that moment I knew the terminal I worked in was next. Before I knew it, I was furloughed and forced to file for unemployment. Like most workers, I was happy when I was called back to work in October because just before that happened I received a notice stating my unemployment benefits would expire soon. Another shutdown would bring devastating financial hardship, I can’t continue to go through these ups-and-downs and uncertainties especially in a pandemic.
Simply put, airport workers, like myself, have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re tired. We deserve quality, affordable healthcare. We deserve basic protections against COVID-19. We deserve hazard pay and a fighting chance to make ends meet for ourselves and our families. We have worked diligently during this pandemic, oftentimes putting our lives at risk. If you call us heroes, treat us like heroes and meet our demands to protect ourselves and YOU this holiday season.