I am the proud alum of the University of Houston. I was blessed to work in downtown Houston and my mother made sure I had a humble heart. I was blessed to speak Spanish and understand the language of poverty.
During my stay in Houston I learned about the worker’s will to unionize and of the incredible push back they were receiving. The janitors that worked downtown after hours only earned minimum wage, which at the time it was $5.15. They also paid for their own parking. When I worked late hours, I saw kids, not that much older than me, taking out the trash, vacuuming and covering the square footage of this twenty floored sky high building. I decided to join them for the march that would not only change the earning ability of Houston janitors but ultimately the minimum wage of the country.
They won their campaign and I went to law school. Through life’s journey, I did not become the lawyer I dreamt of becoming since the 6th grade. I instead became something better (it is my interpretation, so to my lawyer friends, don’t get offended) by quitting law school and become a (self proclaimed) epic organizer. Giving a voice to the voiceless or ignored, I facilitated an organization of janitors in negotiating their pay just like lawyers, doctors, and business professionals. I organized over 500 janitors to go on unfair practice strikes because they were not being treated fairly, and getting taken advantage of.
I had to have tough conversations with families who shared a one bedroom apartment to prepare them for the aftermath of a strike. I had to prepare them for worst case scenario and give them hope for best case scenario. I had to talk to people who were making decisions for their children based on their minimum wage and had 16 hours of sweat and tears, emotional roller coasters. This was the biggest growth and stretch of SHE.
–Laura Isabel Alvarez
Laura earned her degree in Political Science from the University of Houston and currently serves on the Board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs as the Vice-President. She was inducted as a Master’s of Science of Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University in May 2014. She joined Guadalupe Centers, Inc. in April 2013 with several years experience in Human Resources employee related issues and education. As a manager of HR, she is responsible for all Human Resources and Talent Management programs at Guadalupe Centers. You can connect with her on twitter or LinkedIn for the latest happenings in Kansas City, MO.