For Immediate Release: April 21, 2020
NDWA Contact: Nidya Sarria-King, [email protected]
Washington, DC – In response to data that shows that Black people are dying of coronavirus at higher rates, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is calling for urgent support for low-wage workers during the pandemic, including better base pay, protective equipment, accessible testing, family care support and hazard pay for nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers. Many low-wage workers, and particularly domestic workers, are primarily women of color and immigrants including home care work that has a majority of Black women workers.
“Low-wage workers, particularly Black women, are always the hardest hit in any crisis,” said National Domestic Workers Alliance executive director Ai-jen Poo. “While domestic work is essential to keeping our families and communities safe and healthy at this moment, domestic workers have been undervalued and excluded from equal protections for decades. Before the pandemic, workers were one emergency away from crisis and now with the pandemic, they have been the first to lose income, and the last to receive support. From working on the frontlines without adequate pay or safety equipment to losing jobs that they count on to feed their families, Black domestic workers are shouldering an extraordinary burden. Our solutions must both meet their immediate needs, and address long-standing inequities that have increased their vulnerability and heightened the crisis for this segment of our workforce and their families.”
“If we’re all in this together, let’s level the playing field,” said Alicia Garza, Strategy and Partnerships Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Principal at the Black Futures Lab . “Black workers were already being left behind on so many fronts — and now with America at the middle of a storm in the form of a public health crisis, Black communities are being faced with a tsunami. Before the pandemic, we know that Black communities were being kept awake at night trying to make ends meet with low wages that were not enough to support our families. Now, Black communities that were employed before the pandemic are facing a nearly 50% unemployment rate during the pandemic. We need to This make sure that Black workers, including Black domestic workers, can weather the storm. That includes health and safety protections and provisions for Black essential workers, a robust and comprehensive safety net for Black workers, and increasing access to care at all levels — from healthcare to homecare, Black workers deserve better than what our country is currently offering. We can and must step forward, ensuring that we all have a chance to weather this storm and proceed towards a just recovery.”
“Having my hours reduced from 48 a week to 8-10 hours a week has been devastating for me and my family. I’m trying to file for unemployment but the system is overwhelmed. The system wasn’t built to help so many people,” said Safiyya, a Black homecare worker from Charlotte, North Carolina. “We make paycheck to paycheck and make even less now. We need to support homecare workers because without us, the elderly don’t stand a chance.”
“You play more roles than just being a nanny. You are the counselor, the caretaker, the cook, the parent when the parents are not around. We have to work around the clock to make sure the family we work for has some order in their lives so they can be functional in society. We are essential workers, but our work is often considered worthless and is invisibilized,” said Sarah, a Black nanny from New York City.
“It worries me that I still have to work in the middle of a pandemic to earn a living to feed my two little kids. They are my biggest worry and I need to protect them. I don’t have health insurance but I have to keep cleaning otherwise we can’t eat. My employers don’t buy me the proper equipment to clean like gloves or a mask so I feel like I’m constantly at risk,” said Betania, an Afro-Latina house cleaner from Philadelphia.