Letters to the Editor

Domestic workers: America’s ‘secret’

Thanks to my work, and that of thousands of women, politicians can legislate, writers can write bestsellers, CEOs can run multinational corporations and many more are able to go to work every day to provide for their families.

I am a domestic worker.

For the past eight years, I have raised my daughter and supported my family by cleaning homes and taking care of children. I’m dedicated to my job because I depend on it to survive. But I also put my best into it because I had to leave my other two children in Nicaragua in order to come to this country. So I know first-hand what it feels like to depend on someone else to take care of your children when you need to work.

For years I was paid $350 for a 60-hour work week, much less than our state’s minimum wage. I also worked without a contract, was never paid overtime, didn’t have insurance or vacations. At any moment my employer could have refused to pay me or threaten to deport me because I’m also an undocumented immigrant.

There are nearly 100,000 domestic workers in South Florida. Some are victims of human trafficking, violence or sexual abuse. This has to stop.

That’s why I now volunteer at the Miami Workers Center. We need to learn about our rights and stand together to earn recognition and worker protection. Women in California, New York and Illinois already have won a bill of rights. We can do the same in Florida. It’s time for elected leaders to stand up and protect us like any other worker.

Thanks to our work, Miami-Dade County already proclaimed a day in June to recognize domestic workers. On July 23, we are hosting the first Domestic Workers Assembly in South Florida. We expect to gather hundreds of housekeepers, nannies, cooks, and home care workers to come out of the shadows and speak up for our rights.

We are ready to reveal America’s secret and take the spotlight to fight for our rights.

Carla Hansack, Miami