For 57-year-old Celia Vargas, overcoming adversity has been a lifelong battle.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 7, 2016
CREDIT: NYTIMES / TWITTER
In the early 1980s, Vargas fled her home country of El Salvador when her husband was killed during the nation’s civil war. After seeking asylum, she was smuggled into the U.S., in a small wooden box, thanks to the efforts of her children. Once here, Vargas remarried, had another child, got divorced, all while making ends meet with menial jobs. In 1996, Vargas received her U.S. citizenship, and a few years later she met the man who would become her husband, Jorge Alberto. Unfortunately, Jorge was deported back to El Salvador earlier this year, leaving their marriage’s future uncertain. And the cherry on top of all this bad luck? Vargas is currently saddled with $17,000 dollars in medical debt because her employer – Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas – refuses to sign a contract with the union she belongs to, which could have provided her with the benefits to cover her breast cancer surgery.
Don’t get it twisted, though. Vargas is anything but beaten.
Vargas is fighting to have her employer recognize her union, which has been an uphill battle. When Vargas and other co-workers began wearing union buttons in a show of solidarity, they were briefly suspended. Only after the Culinary Union 226 came to their defense, filing an “unfair labor practice” with the National Labor Relations, was Vargas allowed to return to work, still wearing her buttons. Without the Culinary Union 226, workers in situations similar to Vargas’ might end up on the streets or worse. Despite the backlash, Vargas isn’t deterred. She’ll keep on fighting through, and she’ll also cast her vote in Nevada, a state Donald Trump sorely needs to have any chance of winning, for Hillary Clinton.