Black immigrants who work as nannies, cleaners and home health aides continue to struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately devastated their jobs and well-being.
A report released Tuesday by the Institute for Policy Studies and the National Domestic Workers Alliance found that more than two years into the pandemic, domestic workers continue to face exploitative and unsafe working conditions, as well as severe economic insecurity.
In a survey of over 1,000 Black immigrant domestic workers in Miami, New York City and Massachusetts, 37% of workers said they had a hard time finding new work after losing their jobs amid the pandemic.
Over one in four workers surveyed said they had utilities such as electricity disrupted or had been evicted from their homes.
Half of surveyed workers said they had to work in environments where they or others had COVID-19. Over three-quarters said they did not receive benefits like paid time off or health insurance from their employers.
“Two workers I know have died,” said June, an elder care worker quoted in the report release. “One worker got COVID at work from her boss’s children. She was from Haiti and undocumented and didn’t have health insurance. She was afraid to go to the hospital and she died. We buried her.”
The report came as a follow-up to a survey conducted in June 2020, at the start of the pandemic. The initial report found that over two-thirds of the Black immigrant domestic workers surveyed had either lost their jobs or had their hours or pay cut since March 2020.
Meanwhile, undocumented people in the U.S. did not receive a single stimulus check from the federal government, even as millions of Americans received three during the pandemic.
The U.S. has surpassed the devastating milestone of over 1 million people in the country dying from COVID-19 in the past 2 1/2 years.
Throughout the pandemic, Black people faced disproportionate hospitalization and death from the virus. They are overrepresented among front-line workers in the service sector and other industries where employees aren’t able to work from home. Black people are more than twice as likely as white people to be hospitalized with the virus, and nearly twice as likely to die from it.
Black immigrant domestic workers said they need affordable health care, higher wages, free childcare and a pathway to citizenship for those who are undocumented, according to the report.
The organizations behind the report demanded Congress pass the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which would increase protections, raise work standards and ensure benefits to 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. Everything others get in other professions like health care and paid time off, we should get the same thing.”