It's an opportunity of a lifetime for Chicago fast-food worker Adriana Alvarez, who is in Washington today to welcome Pope Francis to the United States.
She and more than a dozen other so-called pilgrims are there to call attention to the need for common-sense immigration reform and wage equality. Alvarez said Francis has demonstrated leadership on key issues that impact the working poor, as well as the need to fight for the justice of work.
"They call him the People's Pope, and it's because he cares about people," she said. "And it's not just Catholics. A lot of people are excited for the pope's visit because of what he's talking about, so it's important to get our message through so that everyone can see that the truth is it's not OK, and he says it's not OK."
Alvarez and other low-wage workers will participate in marches, rallies and vigils during the papal visit. The pope will officially be welcomed by President Obama today and will address a joint session of Congress on Thursday.
Alvarez is with the "Fight for 15" campaign, which is seeking a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to unionize. She says since she and other workers have united together, her employer has made some changes.
"They had first-aid kits that were completely empty; now they're actually stocked," she said. "They stopped stealing our wages. It's just a whole bunch of little minor changes that we have seen, and it's been working for us so we're going to keep pushing."
Alvarez said she feels privileged to be able to welcome the pope and represent fast-food workers, and believes the pope understands the struggles she faces as a single mother making low wages.