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Florida's Domestic Workers Encouraged to Unite

Advocates want more protections for the more than 100,000 domestic workers in Florida. (pedrojperez/morguefile)
Advocates want more protections for the more than 100,000 domestic workers in Florida. (pedrojperez/morguefile)
June 30, 2016

Miami - There are close to 100,000 domestic workers in south Florida alone, and a new effort aims to educate them about the potential risks of their jobs and to encourage them to fight for their rights. A domestic worker is someone who works in another person's home on more than a part-time basis and isn't related to them. That includes nannies, housekeepers and others whom Marcia Olivo, executive director with the Miami Workers Center, said often are undocumented, and can be at risk of being mistreated.

"Verbal abuse; they work 13 to 15 hours a day; usually the calculation comes down to $4.50 an hour; isolation from other people, families," she said. "There's no regulation, no access to health care, no paid vacation."

The first-ever domestic workers assembly in south Florida takes place at Miami-Dade College on Saturday, July 23rd, with the goal of getting workers together to share stories, connect with resources and learn the risks of abuse and human trafficking.

Olivo said many domestic workers live in constant fear, and she believes it is time to shine some light on their situation.

"To allow them to come out of the shadows, and have the rights and dignity and respect and the legal protection that they need; and to be treated as any other worker," she said.

She adds that ultimately, she would like to see the state adopt a "bill of rights" for domestic workers. California, Hawaii and New York all have implemented basic labor protections for domestic workers in recent years.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL