One of the recipients of the Gloria Awards I was most interested in talking to is Ai-jen Poo, lead organizer and founder of Domestic Workers United. She is working to help get fair pay and work conditions for domestic workers throughout the New York greater metropolitan areas. And it turns out, she says, there are 12 such organization nationwide that she knows about.
I got to corner her before the event. She hasn’t spoke yet to the crowd. But she told me “historically this group (domestic workers) hasn’t been valued.” Housework, she says, is not recognized or compensated. She pointed to the many women, moms, wives, etc., who are home breaking their backs to keep homes clean and running, and how, if they aren’t recognized for their hard work, why would be expect society to value such work in the many individuals who come to our homes and clean for us and take care of our children.
“Alot of employers of domestic workers don’t think of themselves as employers,” she explains.
There in lies the problem I suppose.
And she’s not just talking about the many illegal aliens who work in homes across the country. Many are Americans struggling to support themselves and their families but ended up with subpar wages and rarely any benefits. No health insurance. No pensions.
If you guys want to read blog entries on Blogher.org, a great community of women bloggers, where a fellow blogger Nordette Adams who’s sitting right next to me is also sharing her thought on the event, check out, www.blogher.org/node/20205.