HOUSTON - A Houston woman will attend President Donald Trump’s third State of the Union address Tuesday night, as Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia’s (TX-29, D) guest. Garcia invited the woman to help advocate for a higher federal minimum wage.
Anna Alvarez, 55, works as a wheelchair attendant at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Alvarez is a sub-contractor employed by the airlines. In 20 years, Alvarez said she’s never gotten a raise.
“Everything goes up in the world. The rent goes up. The lights go up. But federal minimum wage doesn’t go up for us,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said she makes an honest living by helping elderly and disabled travelers get from point A to point B.
“I deal with people that are paralyzed from the waist down, can’t walk. I deal with people that don’t have any limbs at all. I deal with people from the neck down, are dead weight.
“I have to pick them up, put them on the plane, strap them down so they can get to where they need to get to - next city or wherever they’re going to and I make sure everybody gets there on time. I get them on the plane on time,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez raised five daughters and seven grandkids by working two, full-time jobs.
In her 20 years working as a wheelchair attendant, Alvarez said her pay of $7.25 an hour has never changed.
“$7.25 doesn’t pay the bills. It does not pay the rent and they don’t put food on your table like it used to,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez hopes sharing her story with lawmakers and advocating for a $15 federal minimum wage will help other working families live a better life.
“It’s like one or the other. It’s not fair. We have to make a decision to pay half of the rent or $20-$30 dollars worth of groceries. That’s not fair. It’s not,” Alvarez said.
“I just don’t want my grandkids to live as hard of a life that I did,” Alvarez continued.
Last July, Garcia was one of several representatives in Congress to pass the ‘Raise the Wage Act’ - the first minimum wage hike in over a decade. The bill still has to face a vote in the Senate.
Alvarez heads to Washington Tuesday morning.