I started organizing domestic workers 16 years ago. I signed up nannies, housekeepers and home health aides at parks and train stations as they quietly took care of our children, our households and our elders. Many of them had no clue about labor laws or their rights as workers – they struggled to make ends meet with extremely low pay and no benefits – but they performed their jobs with dedication and took care of our loved ones with pride, dignity and grace.
I found all those years ago that building a bright future for these workers depended on how America valued the care they provided us. In my work, care has emerged as the connective tissue to encompass all identities and enable us to transcend to the level of values and ethics. We must become a nation that values care, a caring America. Because each one of us is connected to care. Because we still largely ignore the needs of those nannies, housekeepers and aides who care for us.
There are at least 3m care workers across the United States. They help our loved ones eat and bathe while providing emotional support and human connection. These workers also take care of us – making it possible to go to work every day knowing our loved ones are in capable hands. They substantially cut healthcare costs by keeping people in their homes and communities and out of expensive institutions. If domestic workers were to strike, it would affect almost every sector in our economy – from doctors and lawyers, bankers and professors, to small business owners and media executives.
Yet in return for the life-sustaining supports that care workers provide, we have failed to care for them.
Read the full article at the Guardian