What misconceptions about your work or this bill do you often find yourself debunking?
Hand in Hand’s model is to work with employers in coalition with domestic workers, living our core value of interdependence. Employers are right there alongside workers: testifying, rallying, celebrating, and sitting in chambers for hours.
Domestic employers are a mixed class group of people who frequently get more attention from legislators than domestic workers might, which is an injustice and a reality that we can harness.
Legislators across the country frequently say that they like these policies, but they worry they’ll be a burden on individuals and employers. We really complicate that by having an employer standing there saying: “No, I want this. This will benefit me.”
Detractors also love to say that this legislation is meant to make employment difficult. But what’s really difficult is when you have a baby, and want to hire someone, and there’s no information available to you. Or when a relative gets into a terrible car accident, and you have to hire at-home care, and the only option is to post on Facebook: “Where can I hire someone and how much should I pay them?”
For employers, finding good, reputable information and hiring people who want to stay in the job is really difficult. And until these jobs are really good jobs, worker shortages and retention problems for home care workers will continue. There’s huge motivation for employers to support this kind of legislation and they do.
Could you share an anecdote from this process that really moved you? A moment in which you felt the meaning of your work?
The willingness of employers and especially workers to share their most personal and vulnerable stories on behalf of so many other workers for whom it’s not safe to show up is incredible. Recognizing how much time people have taken out of their lives to support these policies, partially for themselves but also because others in their communities aren’t able to be there, is such a gift that frequently goes unnoticed.
I was really inspired to hear some of the District Council’s members talking about their own family members. Councilmember Robert White recounted going to work with his mom, who was a house cleaner, and Councilmember Janeese Lewis George said she felt that her great grandmother would be proud of her city that day.
We’ve been pretty tenacious over the years to ensure lawmakers like them see and hear from us – and they sure do. Our stories are resonating with them and they’re recognizing their role to respond to our demands. It was satisfying to hear that reflected back at us on the day of their vote.