Black immigrant workers in jobs such as babysitters, cleaners and domestic helpers are facing difficulties as the pandemic enters its third year. Domestic workers continue to face abusive and unsafe working conditions, as well as financial hardship, according to a report released by the Institute for Policy Studies and the National Union of Domestic Workers.
According to a survey of more than 1,000 black immigrant domestic workers, 37 percent reported difficulty finding new employment after losing their jobs due to the pandemic. Black immigrant domestic workers say in the report that they need affordable health care, higher wages, free child care and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Precarious working conditions
Blacks have faced disproportionate hospitalizations and deaths from the virus throughout the pandemic. They are disproportionately represented among frontline workers in services and other industries where employees cannot work from home. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to be hospitalized with the virus and nearly twice as likely to die from the virus.
Unequal treatment of workers living in the U.S. during Covid
Over the past two and a half years, the United States has passed the devastating milestone of more than one million deaths from COVID-19 nationwide.
The report follows an investigation conducted at the start of the pandemic in June 2020. The preliminary report found that since March 2020, more than two-thirds of black immigrant domestic workers surveyed had either lost their jobs or reduced their hours or wages.
Meanwhile, while millions of Americans received three checks during the pandemic, undocumented individuals in the U.S. did not receive federal stimulus checks.
The difficulties faced by black workers during Covid
More than a quarter of workers surveyed reported that their utilities were cut off or they were evicted from their homes.
Half of the workers interviewed said they had to work in an environment where they or someone else had contracted COVID-19. More than three-quarters reported not receiving benefits such as paid time off or health insurance from their employers.
June, an elderly caregiver quoted in the report revealed, “Two workers I know have passed away. She further stated that, quote, “One worker contracted Covid-19 as part of her boss’s child labor. She was from Haiti, undocumented and had no health insurance. She was afraid to go to the hospital, so she died. We buried her.”
From unemployment to housing insecurity to mental health, we know that Black immigrant domestic workers are the hardest hit during and after the pandemic.
The legitimate demands of black workers during the covid-19 health crisis
According to the report, black immigrant domestic workers say they need affordable health care, higher wages, free child care and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The group behind the report calls on Congress to pass the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which would increase protections, improve labor standards and guarantee benefits for domestic workers.
“Domestic workers should have the same privileges as other workers, like health insurance,” Boston nanny Barbara said in the report. She adds, quote “Many of us don’t. Whatever others get in other careers like health care and paid time off, we deserve the same.
Findings from the intangible report, “The Other Side of the Storm,” presenting data findings and anecdotes from surveys, focus groups, and interviews with more than 1,000 respondents.
The report, “The Other Side of the Storm,” revisits NDWA and IPS’s survey work in 2021, interviewing black immigrant domestic workers in Miami, New York, and Massachusetts as the pandemic broke out in 2020.
Their survey results include:
- 37% reported difficulty finding new jobs during the pandemic.
- 50% of respondents have to work in an environment where they or others have contracted COVID-19.
- In 2020, 65% are concerned about eviction or disruption of utility services. In February 2021, 41% confirmed that their concerns had been realized.
- 68% work without a contract, and undocumented workers are more likely to work without a contract (80%).
- 78% do not receive benefits from their employer, such as paid time off or paid medical or health insurance.
- 57% of respondents cited health insurance as their most desired benefit.
The report’s recommendations
The report recommends increased wages, free childcare, paid caregivers, and pathways to citizenship, as black immigrant domestic workers need to make their work a good career.
In addition, the report also recommends actions to Congress, including increased investment in child care and Medicaid home and community-based services, and passage of the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to increase protections, raise standards and provide industry-wide benefits.
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