Working on the ramp is hard work. You’re in the heat from the time you get there until it gets dark—and it’s still hot out there. I load and unload bags, strollers and other baggage up to 110 pounds. I clean the plane, I do lavatory and water for the planes, and hook up the air conditioner. Sometimes we even fuel the planes.
We don’t have any safety equipment like elbow or knee pads. One of my coworkers broke his arm and another broke her finger. I’ve hurt my back before, I’ve been cut. I was driving and almost got smashed by my own cargo. It’s not safe. We’re getting hurt and we don’t have health care.
For all of that, I’m paid $10 per hour. $300 something a week is not enough to pay rent, especially in Houston.
But look at what the airlines are making on bags. I saw one person pay hundreds of dollars for bags. Airlines are making all this money off of these bags and we’re not seeing any of it. And we’re the ones putting the bags on the plane.
I’ve had to make choices no one should have to make. When I can’t pay the rent because I have to pay the light bill even though I’m working full time, that’s not right.
I have to make it work the best way I can. Everything I had in my house, I had to pawn or sell just to make ends meet. It’s hard to find a second job when I have a family to take care of.
Every time I go to bed, I walk around the house and check in on my family. I wonder how we’ll make ends meet and I pray to God that it will come through.
That’s why I’ve been fighting for a raise and a union. People can’t live on this pay. People are getting fired for no reason, and the working conditions are unsafe.
We’ve been speaking out and the Mayor heard us. We won a raise at Bush and Hobby airports. Because of us, the minimum wage will be $12 an hour by 2021 and next year, it’s going up to $11.22.
Now that I’ll be paid a little more, I won’t have to worry as much, but we have a long way to go. I’m still fighting because we need this $15 and we need this union. If we don’t have a union, they can do whatever they want to us out there. We’re going to keep fighting for it until we win it.