Blogging has been slow the last few weeks since Anne and I went east to celebrate a daughter’s birthday and then flew south to Isla Mujeres, Mexico to escape Chicago’s latest Polar Vortex for just a couple of days.
Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun is beautiful. The waters are crystal clear. I actually don’t understand how the water looks so clear. I should have paid more attention in science classes. Maybe somebody can explain. I saw fish. Don’t they poop?
The weather and the beauty of Isla Mujeres attracts tourists from all over the world. In fact, on a boat excursion to a nearby nature reserve on the tiny Isla Contoy, we English speakers were in the minority.
The Mexican workers that serve the island’s tourist industry work hard for their money. It is not unusual to see the same folks in the morning serving breakfast or cleaning the hotel and then run into them working late in the evening the same day.
We’re back in Chicago now. We flew into O’Hare yesterday afternoon. This morning it is 4 degrees.
I’m not on Isla Mujeres anymore.
When we left through O’Hare it was the first time at the airport since November when I walked the picket line at the Fight for $15 strike by those who can often be invisible to those of us rushing to catch a flight, waiting impatiently in TSA lines or at baggage pick-up.
November 29, 2016 at O’Hare International Airport, Chicago.
It is very possible that when I was at O’Hare that day in November, nearby were Amir Hussin Bin Mohamadur Rahman and Shaik Ahmad.
Both are refugees from Myanmar.
Like their struggling Mexican counterparts Amir Hussin Bin Mohamadur and Shaik Ahmad work hard for their money that is not a livable wage.
Or they did until Rahman was fired for insubordination following the November protest.
Amir Hussin Bin Mohamadur and Shaik Ahmad. Photo: DNAinfo
A Rohingya refugee who immigrated to the U.S. two years ago from war-torn Myanmar hoped he would find opportunity and a second chance by settling in Chicago, with a job at O’Hare. Instead, Amir Hussin Bin Mohamadur Rahman has found himself at the center of a workers rights struggle unfolding within Chicago’s labor force.
Rahman, 25, got a job shortly after his arrival in June 2015 with Scrub, Inc., a company that employs workers who clean the cabins of planes after flights.
That relationship ended in late November after Rahman publicly rallied alongside Service Employees International Union members and other airport workers in a one-day strike with the “Fight For $15” minimum wage campaign.
Rahman also spoke out at an employee meeting advocating for Scrub, Inc. workers to unionize, an act he alleges led to his firing.
“The day that he [stood] up in the meeting, talking about ‘Fight For $15’, saying he wants to go on strike, things changed,” said Wahida Rafiq, a translator who Rahman and another Scrub, Inc. worker spoke through in an interview with DNAinfo.
Scrub, Inc. declined to comment.
Rahman said his job went relatively smoothly until he participated in the strike and was outspoken about forming a union.
“No one bothered me before” the strike, he said.