The following is a transcript of the video above, from our webinar on “Remaking the Economy: Caring for the Care Economy.” View the full webinar here.
Jenn Stowe: The domestic worker workforce has had a history of exclusion and sexism and racism surrounding it because farm workers and domestic workers were left out of the New Deal in the 1930s. There was a humongous labor package [and] labor protections passed at that time, and domestic workers were not included in that. Racial exclusion has defined how the workforce has been treated from the start because Black enslaved women were doing that work, and they were doing it for free.…Domestic workers, because they were not included in the New Deal, were excluded from Social Security. They have largely no overtime protection, [and] often don’t have access to retirement.
At the beginning of COVID, we were surveying domestic workers to see what was going on with them, how were they holding on to their employment or not. And we found that 82 percent of domestic workers did not have one paid sick day, and 90 percent of them instantly lost wages once the pandemic hit. A lot of the challenges that have historically followed the workforce, we’re still seeing today….Investments in three pillars of care—childcare, elder and disability care, and paid family leave—were included in President Biden’s budget, in the former Build Back Better plan. It was a historic inclusion of investments, and they passed in the House at that time, but they were cut out of the final negotiations in the Senate, so they ultimately did not make it into the final plan.…
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Looking forward, I think that the outcome of the midterm elections really renewed our mandate to double down on organizing, organizing, organizing, and continuing to center care and care investments. Care is a bipartisan issue. It’s the issue that everyone can get behind. It’s a majoritarian issue. We will be working to make sure that it is felt across the country, and we’re going to be working to ensure that we can build a big ol’ care constituency because we know that we all need care or have been cared for.
We really need people to understand this and align with common sense that says two things. One, we all deserve care, and the government has a role to play in providing it. The second thing we want people to understand is that the people who provide care deserve jobs that are good jobs. Jobs with living wages, the right to a union, dignity, respect, a safety net. We will be working to make sure that care is in the air.…
If I can speak [about] our political and advocacy arm, Care in Action, there’s an opportunity to position care as a winning electoral issue and [we] are all in on doing so and positioning it as a political force. We’re going to be doing a lot of building, pushing for investments in care, making sure that people know that care work is essential and that care jobs are job-enabling jobs. They’re even more important to us now than ever, and we’ll be centering that in all that we do.