All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance. — Martin Luther King Jr.
Illiinois Domestic Worker Bill of Rights campaign underway!
Learn more, contact the related lawmakers, and sign a petition in support here: http://www.respectallwork.org.
DWOHP is going to the state capital to join domestic workers putting the heat on politicians next week - stay tuned!

Illiinois Domestic Worker Bill of Rights campaign underway!

Learn more, contact the related lawmakers, and sign a petition in support here: http://www.respectallwork.org.

DWOHP is going to the state capital to join domestic workers putting the heat on politicians next week - stay tuned!

Narrator & bonafide White House Champion of Change, Myrla Baldonado in the midst of interviewing with the Domestic Worker Oral History Project, in Chicago.

Narrator & bonafide White House Champion of Change, Myrla Baldonado in the midst of interviewing with the Domestic Worker Oral History Project, in Chicago.

meetmyimmigrantmom:

My Mother’s Work Deserves Dignity
My mother, Nell, has been a domestic worker/caregiver for the elderly and mentally ill for nearly 30 years. 
Near the end of 2012, the National Domestic Workers Alliance released the first-ever national statistical study of domestic workers, “Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work”. They interviewed thousands of workers, originally from 71 countries, throughout the nation’s metropolitan areas. This groundbreaking study sheds light on a labor sector that is otherwise invisible to most people, even though it is essential to maintain our economy. I’ve been inspired to do my part, and make sure my mother’s story is heard. 
After my mother migrated from the Philippines with my father in 1983, she became employed as a domestic worker. She has worked in private households and in caregiving facilities. Since I was 5 years old, my mother has been the breadwinner and backbone of my family (my father retired early to help raise me). With her low wages she’s provided the basic necessities for our family while continually sending money to our relatives in the Philippines. 
67 percent of live-in workers are paid below the state minimum wage, and the median hourly wage of these workers is $6.15. 
My parents couldn’t afford a baby sitter, so when my father couldn’t watch me, I went to work with my mother. For most of my childhood (until I graduated from high school) I saw her work so hard to care for her clients, up to 20 at a time—assuring that they had enough to eat, that they had clean clothes, and that they were on track with their medication regimens. I spent nearly every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s helping my mother serve special meals at her carehomes. Some of her clients didn’t have family or friends to stay with for the holidays, so we made sure that they got their fill of turkey and stuffing with all the fixings—my specialty was the punch. 
Although my mother works very hard, she’s had her share of negative experience with employers. She’s had some fair employers, but also some abusive ones. While these negative experiences have been few and far between, they’ve still taken a toll on her and our family. 
Without the support of any kind of union, she’s mostly had to fight on her own. As a live-in employee, she’s experience long hours without overtime pay, and worked years with without vacation pay or health benefits, but she never once lowered her level of care for her clients. She always makes the happiness of her clients and the satisfaction of their social workers/families her top priority. 
I know what you’re thinking, “Why didn’t she tell anyone?”or “How can these employers get away with abusing their workers like this?”. The answer is a lack protection from current labor laws and fear. Below are a few more findings this new study has revealed about worker maltreatment: 
Domestic workers have little control over their working conditions. Employment is usually arranged without the benefit of a formal contract 
65% do not have health insurance, and only 4% receive employer-provided insurance. 
91% of workers who encountered problems with their working conditions in the prior 12 months did not complain because they were afraid they would lose their job. 
Among workers who are fired from a domestic work job, 23% are fired for complaining about working conditions, and 18% are fired for protesting violations of their contract or agreement
As a U.S. citizen, my mother has had more pull when it’s come to complaining about working conditions. Many of her co-workers are undocumented and stay mostly silent, for fear that they will get fired, or worse—deported. 
Along with these striking statistics, the NDWA’s study also offers recommendations that include enacting and enforcing policies that “rectify the exclusion of domestic workers from employment and labor laws.” In 2010, New York adopted a bill of rights for domestic workers. California is taking more steps with Assembly Bill . We have to keep fighting. 
My mother is currently 62 years old and has filed for Early Retirement. She’s also in the process of resigning from her current job, due to discrepancies with her current employer. 
A couple of weeks ago I asked my mother if she regrets anything about her job, and she said this: “Never, I love my job. I love caring for these people, and I can’t see myself doing any other job.” I am proud of my mother, and I want to see her line of work be respected as much as any doctor, lawyer, or teacher. 
Resources for caregivers/domestic workers:
National Domestic Workers United: http://www.domesticworkers.org/ 
Domestic Workers United: http://www.domesticworkersunited.org/ 
Filipinos for Justices – Worker Support Services: 
http://www.filipinos4justice.org/services/workers/ 
Mujeres Unidas y Activas http://www.mujeresunidas.net/
Mercy Albaran is a home-grown Oaklander, and works with multiple Bay Area non-profits in the struggle for social equity. In her spare time she likes to eat cake, sing, and beatbox. Follower her musings on Twitter @DJMercyMerc

meetmyimmigrantmom:

My Mother’s Work Deserves Dignity

My mother, Nell, has been a domestic worker/caregiver for the elderly and mentally ill for nearly 30 years. 

Near the end of 2012, the National Domestic Workers Alliance released the first-ever national statistical study of domestic workers, “Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work”. They interviewed thousands of workers, originally from 71 countries, throughout the nation’s metropolitan areas. This groundbreaking study sheds light on a labor sector that is otherwise invisible to most people, even though it is essential to maintain our economy. I’ve been inspired to do my part, and make sure my mother’s story is heard. 

After my mother migrated from the Philippines with my father in 1983, she became employed as a domestic worker. She has worked in private households and in caregiving facilities. Since I was 5 years old, my mother has been the breadwinner and backbone of my family (my father retired early to help raise me). With her low wages she’s provided the basic necessities for our family while continually sending money to our relatives in the Philippines. 

  • 67 percent of live-in workers are paid below the state minimum wage, and the median hourly wage of these workers is $6.15. 

My parents couldn’t afford a baby sitter, so when my father couldn’t watch me, I went to work with my mother. For most of my childhood (until I graduated from high school) I saw her work so hard to care for her clients, up to 20 at a time—assuring that they had enough to eat, that they had clean clothes, and that they were on track with their medication regimens. I spent nearly every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s helping my mother serve special meals at her carehomes. Some of her clients didn’t have family or friends to stay with for the holidays, so we made sure that they got their fill of turkey and stuffing with all the fixings—my specialty was the punch. 

Although my mother works very hard, she’s had her share of negative experience with employers. She’s had some fair employers, but also some abusive ones. While these negative experiences have been few and far between, they’ve still taken a toll on her and our family. 

Without the support of any kind of union, she’s mostly had to fight on her own. As a live-in employee, she’s experience long hours without overtime pay, and worked years with without vacation pay or health benefits, but she never once lowered her level of care for her clients. She always makes the happiness of her clients and the satisfaction of their social workers/families her top priority. 

I know what you’re thinking, “Why didn’t she tell anyone?”or “How can these employers get away with abusing their workers like this?”. The answer is a lack protection from current labor laws and fear. Below are a few more findings this new study has revealed about worker maltreatment: 

  • Domestic workers have little control over their working conditions. Employment is usually arranged without the benefit of a formal contract 
  • 65% do not have health insurance, and only 4% receive employer-provided insurance. 
  • 91% of workers who encountered problems with their working conditions in the prior 12 months did not complain because they were afraid they would lose their job. 
  • Among workers who are fired from a domestic work job, 23% are fired for complaining about working conditions, and 18% are fired for protesting violations of their contract or agreement

As a U.S. citizen, my mother has had more pull when it’s come to complaining about working conditions. Many of her co-workers are undocumented and stay mostly silent, for fear that they will get fired, or worse—deported. 

Along with these striking statistics, the NDWA’s study also offers recommendations that include enacting and enforcing policies that “rectify the exclusion of domestic workers from employment and labor laws.” In 2010, New York adopted a bill of rights for domestic workers. California is taking more steps with Assembly Bill . We have to keep fighting. 

My mother is currently 62 years old and has filed for Early Retirement. She’s also in the process of resigning from her current job, due to discrepancies with her current employer. 

A couple of weeks ago I asked my mother if she regrets anything about her job, and she said this: “Never, I love my job. I love caring for these people, and I can’t see myself doing any other job.” I am proud of my mother, and I want to see her line of work be respected as much as any doctor, lawyer, or teacher. 

Resources for caregivers/domestic workers:

National Domestic Workers United: http://www.domesticworkers.org/ 

Domestic Workers United: http://www.domesticworkersunited.org/ 

Filipinos for Justices – Worker Support Services: 

http://www.filipinos4justice.org/services/workers/ 

Mujeres Unidas y Activas http://www.mujeresunidas.net/

Mercy Albaran is a home-grown Oaklander, and works with multiple Bay Area non-profits in the struggle for social equity. In her spare time she likes to eat cake, sing, and beatbox. Follower her musings on Twitter @DJMercyMerc

Barbara Young, organizer for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, featured in 101 Changemakers
Domestic Worker Oral History Project contributor Dao Tran recently edited 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History, a people’s history version of the individuals who have shaped our country, for middle school students and up. In the place of founding fathers, presidents, and titans of industry are profiles of those who courageously fought for social justice in the United States, providing students with new ways of understanding how history is written—and made.
Dao wrote the profile on Barbara, who was a domestic worker for seventeen years, and spent some time at the book launch event in discussion with her about her journey from working as a bus conductor in Barbados; to caregiving and nannying in New York City; to her current role as national organizer of domestic workers. 

To watch a video of the event:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrwsDoBjzrg

101 Changemakers:
http://www.haymarketbooks.org/hc/101-Changemakers
Photo credit: Olivia McClendon and Joshua Davis

Barbara Young, organizer for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, featured in 101 Changemakers

Domestic Worker Oral History Project contributor Dao Tran recently edited 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History, a people’s history version of the individuals who have shaped our country, for middle school students and up. In the place of founding fathers, presidents, and titans of industry are profiles of those who courageously fought for social justice in the United States, providing students with new ways of understanding how history is written—and made.

Dao wrote the profile on Barbara, who was a domestic worker for seventeen years, and spent some time at the book launch event in discussion with her about her journey from working as a bus conductor in Barbados; to caregiving and nannying in New York City; to her current role as national organizer of domestic workers.
To watch a video of the event:
101 Changemakers:

Photo credit: Olivia McClendon and Joshua Davis


 Chicago Sun Times covers “Unfinished Business: 21st Century Home Economics” Exhibit, as IL Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, SB 1708, Unfolds

Excerpts:

“The exhibit is a timely one. Baby boomers are going through caregiving issues with their parents. And soon boomers will be experiencing caregiving needs firsthand. The World Health Organization has estimated that dementia sufferers will top 2 billion by 2050. That would be the worst medical disaster in human history.”“It is a key moment in the campaign,” says Elisa Ringholm, development director of the Latino Union. “[The Domestic Worker Bill of Rights] includes domestic workers in existing labor laws. They will be included in the right to minimum wage. The right to be paid for all hours worked. One day off per week. The right to meal and rest periods. Paid time off. And the right to be free from sexual harassment.”



Pictured: Former nanny Sally Velasco, “The Best Babysitter on Earth,”  stands near her caregiving artifact, currently on display at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum. A gift from her young charges, the photo album was presented to Velasco when she retired from caregiving to become a teacher. All of the children in the neighborhood attended her going away party. Photo (c) Sarah Macaraeg
Chicago Sun Times covers “Unfinished Business: 21st Century Home Economics” Exhibit, as IL Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, SB 1708, Unfolds
Excerpts:

“The exhibit is a timely one. Baby boomers are going through caregiving issues with their parents. And soon boomers will be experiencing caregiving needs firsthand. The World Health Organization has estimated that dementia sufferers will top 2 billion by 2050. That would be the worst medical disaster in human history.”

“It is a key moment in the campaign,” says Elisa Ringholm, development director of the Latino Union. “[The Domestic Worker Bill of Rights] includes domestic workers in existing labor laws. They will be included in the right to minimum wage. The right to be paid for all hours worked. One day off per week. The right to meal and rest periods. Paid time off. And the right to be free from sexual harassment.”

Pictured: Former nanny Sally Velasco, “The Best Babysitter on Earth,”  stands near her caregiving artifact, currently on display at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum. A gift from her young charges, the photo album was presented to Velasco when she retired from caregiving to become a teacher. All of the children in the neighborhood attended her going away party. Photo (c) Sarah Macaraeg

Collected Stories: The Rise of Oral History in Museum Exhibitions

Photo: Chicago History Museum’s Facing Freedom exhibit

By Ron Chew

Museum News, November/December, 2002

There was a time, not so long ago, when the gathering of oral histories—recorded, first-person interviews—was derided as the dubious pursuit of untrained amateurs, whose only skill was the ability to ask questions and turn on a tape recorder. Traditional historians scoffed at oral history’s reliability and usefulness. Archivists cringed at the prospect of having to make space for the storage of tapes and transcripts. Museum professionals, accustomed to working with stoic relics of the past, struggled with the notion of allowing living voices to invade the hallowed exhibition space.

There are still skeptics, but the tide of thinking clearly has changed. Oral history has begun to permeate the museum—having proven its value as a research and organizing tool, a component of exhibitions, and a document worth preserving in the collection archive. “I don’t think oral history is in its full flowering yet,” says Barbara Franco, president and CEO of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. “I think we’re just beginning to understand why it’s so attractive to our audiences.”

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Because “All Work is Sacred” The Chicago Coalition of Household Workers has launched a domestic worker hotline, offering free legal advice, information on workplace rights, and skills training for domestic worker health and safety. Please help spread the word about this important new resource!

Because “All Work is Sacred” The Chicago Coalition of Household Workers has launched a domestic worker hotline, offering free legal advice, information on workplace rights, and skills training for domestic worker health and safety. Please help spread the word about this important new resource!

We are the hand that rocks the cradle of humanity. — founding board member, the Chicago Caregivers Association