The Lone Star State is home to the highest number of low-wage wage workers in the country - 176,000 people - earning as little as $5.15 an hour. In fact, the janitors in Houston earn less than janitors in any other big city in America. But with federal minimum wage bills stalled in Congress and no minimum wage initiatives on the Texas ballot this year, many workers feel stuck in a cycle of economic desperation.
Last year, over 5000 Houston janitors signed up with the SEIU, the Service Employee's International Union, to press for living wages and benefits that at least match those found in other states. They named heir cause "Justice for Janitors," and they called a strike just this week to fight for a living wage. But joining a union is a risky move for someone in a low-skill job when your entire livelihood is on the line and your employer has little incentive to change.
Watch NOW on PBS Friday night (check local listings) for a full report on minimum wage politics in Missouri and around the country: