Solidarity Inside Your Own Home
How will we support the workers that millions of us rely on for help in our homes?
Do you believe that “the personal is political”? We do. Our values don’t change when we go through the front door of our homes in the morning, and they don’t change when we start our workday.
Living our politics begins at home, especially when our homes are a workplace for someone else—whether a nanny who cares for children, a home attendant who helps us live independently, a cleaner who makes a busy person’s life easier, or a caregiver supporting a senior citizen.
Many of those workers, like many of us, feel outraged, sad, and confused about what to do after the election. As employers of domestic workers, who are among the people who have been and will likely be most targeted, one thing we can do is to support women, people of color, and/or immigrants who work in our homes.
We at Hand in Hand, in collaboration with our domestic worker partners, compiled a few tips on what you can do now to support the person who supports your home or family. We welcome your questions and suggestions as we all figure out how to keep our communities safe and help each other thrive.
Engage in a dialogue (but don’t assume).
Ask questions, communicate clearly, and give the caregivers and domestic workers in your life space to share how they are feeling. We don’t know what’s going on for people at this time, so don’t assume anything about your employee, their immigration status or that of their family members, or how they’re feeling about the election in general. Instead, ask open-ended questions (“How are you feeling about the election?”), and create space for them to talk about about how they’re doing and what they are concerned or worried about.
Assure and affirm that you will show up for them and that you have their back.
Let your employee know how you feel about the election, and that you are committed to standing up for anyone who comes under attack with this new administration. Commit to working together to find resources to support them or others as necessary, and make it clear that your home is a safe space. If many of your neighbors employ domestic workers — nannies, housecleaners, or home attendants — consider developing a collective affirmation that you all will show up for the workers in your community. And let them know you welcome hearing about anything that comes up in the future, from specific resources needed to concerns about safety.
Provide concrete supports to ensure their health and safety.
- Check in to see if the person you employ needs any time off to be with family. One of the profound challenges in this moment has been the fearful reaction of children to the election results — even young children. Many of us have had to provide extra love and support for our kids, and in some cases, our caregivers have been the ones reassuring them and providing added emotional support. Let’s make sure they are able to be with their own families as well.
- If they are afraid of taking public transportation late at night or worried about getting home, offer to order and pay for cab rides, or make sure you or someone you trust is driving or accompanying them home. Again, this can be something you arrange collectively with neighbors or in your community.
- Offer to help with concrete resources, such as legal support on immigration, advice on health care or other benefits they might be concerned about losing. While this may not be immediately necessary, it is a way to show that they will not have to figure this out alone. Hand in Hand will be providing more information, particularly on immigration, as we learn more about the policies of the Trump administration.
- Trump will not become president until January 20, 2017. Now is the time to know our rights, and prepare — immigrant and U.S.-born alike — to stand up for each other. Be vigilant of notaries or unscrupulous attorneys. There is a list of trusted immigration attorneys on the Step Forward website.
- If your employee has DACA and has applied to travel under the Advanced Parole program, they should complete the trip before January 17th. We do not recommend applying for Advanced Parole now. We are waiting for more information.
Be a Fair Care employer.
We may be in unknown territory politically, but being a fair employer remains a constant in our homes. Do your best to follow the Fair Care Pledge , whose core ideas are fair pay, paid time off, and clear expectations in your work relationship. (Haven’t signed? Do it now, and you’ll get support on putting it into practice!)
So: Are you paying a fair wage? Are you being clear about your flexibility in this moment? Are you giving them the paid time off they need to talk to lawyers, be with family, or attend community meetings or protests? Find ways to work together and take action now, when so many people might be under attack:
- Attend a rally or organizing meeting together (invite them, or let them know you’d be interested in hearing about such events)
- Talk to people who you know also employ domestic workers. Ask if they’ve discussed the election and see if there are shared concerns.
- Organize a community meeting for workers and employers. We can support you.
Don’t forget to involve your family members in this effort to support workers in your home. If you have children, this is a great opportunity to help them practice living out the definition of solidarity.
To recap the game plan:
- Get the line of dialogue open by asking a simple, open-ended question at your next opportunity
- Bookmark this article so you can find these links later if you need them
- Sign the Fair Care Pledge to affirm your solidarity and get more resources
- Visit Hand in Hand to learn more about this movement
- Join our December 14th webinar, co-hosted with anti-harassment experts from Hollaback, about creating safety and solidarity inside your home and out