The coronavirus has put our world in a standstill. Every industry is struggling at the moment, and people are losing their jobs. It would be unjust to say that one community is hurting more than another because in dire times, especially the one in which we’re trying to survive in, we’re all feeling desperate and anxious. But we do know that before the coronavirus sent our economy into a tailspin that Latinas made the least out of any other group. So, those figures tell us that in today’s devastating economy and job loss, Latinas face the most uncertainty.
For Latinas that work as domestic workers — elderly care, nannies, home cleaners, hotel workers, etc. — the coronavirus has changed everything. With everyone under a “shelter in place,” domestic workers are stuck at home without pay, without sick leave, and without any kind of financial benefit. The domestic workers that are still working face an even bigger risk including that of contracting the virus. Such was the case with a maid who worked for a Brazilian woman. Her employer caught the coronavirus, infected her maid and she ended up dying. With more than 2.5 million domestic workers in the U.S., there is a way you can help.
Firstly, if you employ a domestic worker, you should continue to pay them regardless if they are working for you right now or not. Stephanie Land, author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that it is up to us, employers of domestic workers, to step up to the plate and pay them what they deserve.
“As their private employer, pay the person who works in your home at their full, usual rate for any missed hours,” Land writes. “If you can’t get over the ‘no work, no pay’ mind-set, think of it as an accrued benefit like paid leave, sick pay, or vacation days. They are probably overdue.”
“Low-wage workers are hit the hardest by any national crisis, including this pandemic. Poverty will be a decisive factor in how this virus will spread in the months to come. Staying home from work is an impossible choice for far too many Americans who can barely make ends meet,” said National Domestic Workers Alliance executive director Ai-jen Poo. “That’s why we launched the Coronavirus Care Fund to provide emergency assistance to nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers who need help right now, giving them the stability they need to stay home and be a part of the solution to this crisis.”
Maritza Huerta also launched a fundraiser to help nine Latina domestic workers who desperately need help, including Georgina Palacio from Nicaragua, who has worked in the U.S. as a house cleaner for the past 16 years.
“Before the coronavirus, she and her eight co-workers would work 5-6 days a week, cleaning an average of 15 houses daily between all of them,” Huerta wrote on the GoFundMe page. “On Thursday, Mar. 19, after the coronavirus outbreak, only two women worked and cleaned only two houses that day. This creates a drastic cut in work hours and income for each house cleaner’s household. This GoFundMe campaign aims to raise funds to help the nine (9) employees and the Latina business-owner who runs the small housekeeping company.”
Click here for more information and to donate.