Groundbreaking national survey finds domestic workers vulnerable, underpaid, and abused
Published: December 5, 2012
Organizing with SWU and the local group Domestic Workers in Action, Emilia said, “We're just trying to say we're humans, too. We just want to be paid for what we work.”
According to the national report, 91 percent of domestic workers surveyed faced problems in the workplace but didn't complain out of fear of losing their jobs. For those who lost their jobs, 23 percent said they were fired for protesting poor workplace conditions, while another 18 percent were fired for contesting a contract or agreement their employer failed to live up to. Around 85 percent of undocumented workers said they quietly endured poor conditions, or low pay, or even abuse because they feared their immigration status would be used against them.
Groups like SWU and the National Domestic Workers Alliance hope to push local, state and federal legislative reforms to offer domestic workers the same protections afforded professions. They're also encouraging workers to draft written contracts with employers – though the national survey showed employers often considered those agreements non-binding when challenged.
While SWU's Rendon sees little chance for moment on the issue at the Texas Legislature in the near future, he looks to New York City, which in 2010 passed a domestic workers bill of rights. Rendon says local organizers plan to push for San Antonio City Council to consider something similar this year.
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