Domestic workers

Black immigrant domestic workers still struggling as pandemic enters third year

Black immigrants working as nannies, cleaners and home health aides continue to struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately devastated their jobs and well-being.

A report published Tuesday by the Institute for Policy Studies and the National Alliance of Domestic Workers found that more than two years into the pandemic, domestic workers continue to face abusive and unsafe working conditions, as well as to severe economic insecurity.

In a survey of more than 1,000 black immigrant domestic workers in Miami, New York and Massachusetts, 37% of workers said they had difficulty finding new work after losing their jobs amid the pandemic.

More than one in four workers surveyed said they had had utilities such as electricity cut off or been evicted from their homes.

Half of workers surveyed said they had to work in environments where they or others had COVID-19. More than three-quarters said they had not received benefits such as paid vacation or health insurance from their employers.

“Two workers I know have died,” said June, an aged care worker quoted in the report. “A worker contracted COVID at her boss’s child labor. She was from Haiti, was undocumented and had no health insurance. She was afraid to go to the hospital and she died. We buried her.

The report came as a following a survey conducted in June 2020, at the start of the pandemic. The initial report found that more than two-thirds of black immigrant domestic workers surveyed had either lost their jobs or had their hours or pay reduced since March 2020.

Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants in the United States did not receive a single stimulus check from the federal government, even as millions of Americans received three during the pandemic.

The United States has passed the devastating milestone of more than 1 million people in the country die of COVID-19 in the last 2 1/2 years.

Throughout the pandemic, black people have faced disproportionate hospitalization and death from the virus. They are overrepresented among frontline workers in the service sector and other industries where employees cannot work from home. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whitespeople to be hospitalized with the virus, and nearly twice as likely to die from it.

According to the report, black immigrant domestic workers said they needed affordable health care, higher wages, free childcare and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The organizations behind the report called on Congress to pass the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which would increase protections, raise labor standards and guarantee benefits for domestic workers.

“Domestic workers deserve to have the same privileges as other workers, like health insurance,” Barbara, a Boston-based nanny, said in the report. “A lot of us don’t have that. Whatever other people get in other professions like health care and paid vacation, we should get the same.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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