Le’Shika Frederick makes $9.50 an hour as a Wheelchair Attendant at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas.
She and her 8-year-old son share a room at her uncle’s house because $9.50 isn’t nearly enough to rent her own place. “The cost of living in Houston is so expensive and wages are so low,” she says.
This is why Le’Shika and so many other working people are coming together in the fight for $15 and a union. “If you work hard I think you need to be paid decent wages,” she says. “And that airport is hard. You are always on your feet.”
Le’Shika works from 4:15am - 12:45pm, which means she’s already at work before her son wakes up for school. Once a week, she has to pull a 13-hour shift. Lately, she’s been picking up even more hours so she can pay the bills and the medication her son needs.
“My son has ADHD, and I can’t afford his medication. He’s due for his shot that he can’t get,” she says. “[Considering] I work full-time, I should [be able to] afford to care for my son’s medical condition.”
Le’Shika can’t afford health insurance at her job, and consequently struggles to pay for doctor’s visits out of pocket. “Somehow on $9 an hour, I make too much to qualify for Medicaid even though I can’t even afford my own place,” she says.
At the airport, Le’Shika transports elderly people and people with disabilities from the airplanes and terminals to wherever they need to go throughout the airport, including restaurants and the restroom. Although it’s a tipped position, many days she doesn’t make any tips at all because people don’t know she’s classified as a tipped worker.
Le’Shika is fighting for $15 an hour and the opportunity to join a union. She’s hopeful and excited to make a change. “I have never been in a group so powerful before. I want to be part of it and a part of us standing up for ourselves. We deserve better. We’re all equal and we should be treated equally.”