Do we care?

Local activists push for better recognition for caregiving professions

Lil Milagro Martinez (left) wants all domestic workers to be treated with the same respect she afford to the nanny of her son.

Teresa Molina faced abusive, belittling treatment on the job.

The 52-year-old immigrant from Sinaloa, Mexico, says she was paid $500 a month to provide 24-hour, live-in care to a girl in a wheelchair and her family. She wasn't allowed regular breaks. She couldn't eat what she wanted. Even her sleep was disrupted.

"I spoke up a couple times, but when I did, my employer told me I was dumb and good for nothing," Molina, speaking Spanish through a translator, told us. "She would ask my immigration status, and I said that was not important, but she used that as a threat."

Molina is a domestic worker — one of the only two professions (the other being farm work) exempt from federal labor standards.

Her experience, a common one among immigrant women in California, prompted Molina to get involved in last year's California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights campaign, part of national effort that resulted in the first-ever protections being signed into law in New York in 2010.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the California version of the bill late on the night of Sept. 30, 2012, the deadline for signing legislation, citing the paternalistic concern that better pay and working conditions might translate into fewer jobs or fewer hours for domestic workers.

"I was offended by how he did it, in the middle of the night on the last day, and he basically trivialized it," Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-SF), who sponsored the measure, told us. "Here in California, it's a major workforce, but there's no rules and there's a documented history of abuses."

But if anything, Brown's veto has energized local activists, who say the battle for domestic worker rights is part of a much larger issue that women, children, immigrants, and their supporters are struggling against as they try to get society to value one of the most basic of social and economic functions: caring and caregiving.

Those in the caregiving professions are used to such defeats, but this one seems to be galvanizing and uniting several parallel movements — most of which have a strong presence here in the Bay Area — that want to apply human values and needs to an economic system that has never counted them.

It is, economists and policy experts say, a profoundly different way to measure economic output — and if the domestic workers and their allies succeed, it could have long-term implications for national, state, and local policy.



There are endless examples of how society undervalues caring and caregiving and other labor that has long been deemed "women's work." They range from nurses fighting for fair contracts to in-home support service workers fighting for their jobs. Many are jobs that have traditionally been done in the home — and in some cases, not counted at all as part of the Gross Domestic Product.

Social work, teaching, administrative support, caring for children or seniors, community organizing, and other jobs held predominantly by women and people of color are consistently among the lowest paid professions.

But the demand for those jobs is increasing — and the price of under-investing in education, caregiving, and child development is decreased productivity and increased crime and other costs for decades to come — so activists say they are critical to the nation's future.

"It's a different perspective. Caregiving isn't transactional the way we think about other jobs," said Alicia Garza, executive director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), which has joined with other organizations nationwide for a Caring Across Generations campaign. "We're a nation that has a growing aging population with no plan for how we're going to take care of these people."


Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 9:26 am

Off topic and offensive because you are ignoring the issue here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 10:20 am

Uh, no.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 1:48 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2013 @ 11:04 am

Except when he decides that he does, of course.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2013 @ 11:16 am

and why should we care?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2013 @ 11:38 am

The self-styled and self-important posted AKA "Trollkiller".

Who himself is a troll, interestingly.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2013 @ 11:51 am

more for care than they do. You might as well ask why any group of workers gets minimum wage or no benefits.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 10:50 am

As long as you tolerate huge amounts of illegal immigration, jobs like this are going to pay crap and have crap conditions.

If you want the quality of these jobs to improve, limit the supply of people willing to do them.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 7:19 am

someone else willing to do the same work for less money.

Immigration has a positive effect on costs and inflation.

So does outsourcing but that is less of a factor with healthcare provision, although I am hearing of more Americans having treatment in places like Thailand, again on cost grounds. Quality is similar.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 7:40 am

What if YOU are one of the people being paid less?
Having foreigners do our dirty work is not the solution
to any economic or social problem.
You really believe it's OK to have servants?

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 8:21 am

reasonably complain when either I am replaced or my pay scale is reduced.

What is your rationale for wanting to be paid more than the job is worth, other than greed?

Servants are simply people who perform domestic duties for pay. It's just another job.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 8:38 am

If you can afford a servant, then you are being paid WAY more than you are worth.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

There is no determinant of whether a given level of income is appropriate except for what someone is willing to pay you for it. What you then proceed to spend it on is of little importance, whether on a servant or not.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

Everyone knows "the market" is rigged to disproportionately reward those who do the least for society. The CEO of Coca-Cola, a product responsible for billions of dollars in health care damages, "earned" $29.1 million dollars last year. This is only one example of thousands, and if money were distributed according to the benefit to society, farm workers, school teachers, nurses, and other "servants" would earn the most.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

to it's reader that no substantiation for the assertion is forthcoming, as here.

What anyone "does for society" is a highly subjective notion. What isn't subjective is what somebody will pay you for that contribution.

There isn't a nation on the planet where a menial workers makes the same as a CEO. Whinery about how much other people make is usually indicative of someone who lacks the skills to be rewarded to the extent that his ambition requires.


Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

There are many nations on Earth where one class of individuals is not exploited so that others can think they are better than everyone else, most notably the Scandinavian countries.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

you don't, evidently preferring American-style "exploitative" capitalism to a Nordic egalitarianism where, perhaps not coincidentally, we find both a 60% tax rate and the highest suicide rate on the planet.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

These troll monsters don't care about facts, they only seek to disturb. The bold-faced lie is their favorite tool.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 6:56 am

Oslo is in Norway, not Sweden. But that doesn't detract from your point, because the US has a higher suicide rate than either one of them. Of course we all know that trolls don't care a whit about suicide rates. They're just looking for anything to support their ideology of unregulated markets... even if they have to make up facts.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 7:28 am

most definitely in that group of nations, it being defined as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark (maybe Greenland and Iceland and the Faroes too - not sure).

The suicide rates in the US have to be discounted if most of them occur in our much larger underclass - I'd expect that to be less of a factor in a totally socialized nation like Norway and Sweden, where such people are no doubt institutionalized, at great taxpayer expense, of course.

Sorry, but I'll take my chances in the good ol' US, where I get to keep more of what I make.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 8:01 am

Why should the life of someone in the "underclass" be discounted? Isn't it a black mark on the US that we have such a large underclass in the first place.

It would be more reasonable to discount the suicides in Scandinavia because the long winters have an affect on depression. Long winters are something that you can't control with the type of society you set up. But the existence of a massive underclass is something that you definitely can change.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 8:51 am

and in fact I did. My comment was simply that a critical mass of American voters do not want to pay higher taxes simply to indemnify others from ever suffering the result of not being economically valuable.

America isn't worse than Sweden, only different. It's good to have a choice of different systems. Everywhere being exactly the same serves on useful purpose. We like diversity, right?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 9:09 am

"Isn't it a black mark on the US that we have such a large underclass in the first place"

The US has admitted tens of millions of poor people into the country over the last few decades. Does it surprise you that we have a large class of poor people as a result of this?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2013 @ 8:25 am

They also have the highest standard of living in the world, along with free medical care and education. No one complains about the tax rate, because they have not been infected with American-style greed. The suicide rate is due to a combination of excessive alcohol consumption and 8-month long winters.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

Unless of course you prefer it here, despite all the anti-American rhetoric and rampant, unfettered capitalism.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

Everyone deserves that standard of security because we're all being forced to socialize the costs of maintaining the stability of the capitalist system.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

otherwise refuse to participate in our capitalist system.

You freely elect to play your part in our system and so your whinery about it is not convincing.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

This is my home, is why I don't move to Scandinavia.
That, and the 8-month long winters.
When the financial crisis your rampant unfettered capitalism finally
hits your individual pocketbook, we'll see how much you like the free market. Everything has a cost, especially greed. Although I thought the answer to "do we care?" was self-evident, your posts confirm my suspicions:
"Uh, no....."

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

interest in leaving here. So instead of solving your problem, you compound it and stay here and whine. Lame.

Oh, and as a free-market capitalist, I fully expect to profit from any "collapse" in capitalism by investing in gold and put options and CDS derivatives.

That's the thing you see - a capitalist doesn't need bull markets to profit. He just needs to understand what is going on better than the average shrew.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

Why do you Trolls always think everything is about you?
Claiming to be a "free-market capitalist" in a system that "everyone"
knows is neither free market or capitalist is an admission of moral turpitude.
If it were truly a free-market system, most of your investments would be worth nothing, as they will be in the near future.
Enjoy trying to eat your gold, if it isn't confiscated by your "government."

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 6:08 am

more than wanting to see our policies be more favorable to our own personal situation. In your case, that might be Sweden, but I seriously doubt it.

We do have free-market capitalism here in America and I have done very well out of it. It's not about investing in gold but, yes, I am way of a future government trying to confiscate it and so hold only the physical, and definitely not in paper or security form. I do not trust our government except when it gets out of the way.

I'm sorry that you are not happy in the country you choose to live in, but "everyone" most definitely does not feel the same way as you.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 7:56 am

So, your answer to the question "Do we care?" is no?

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

then I am sure that most, if not all, will say "of course I do".

The better question is this. Are you willing to pay more taxes so that those who need care can have more of it, even though you will end up with less?

And the answer to that, as typically indicated by the results of US elections, is a resounding NO.

Posted by anon on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

This is the heart of the difference between folks like myself, and reptilian capitalists:

"We are all individuals and our interest in politics is nothing
more than wanting to see our policies be more favorable to our own personal situation. "

Actually... no. Some of us favor policies that benefit the community as a whole. Nor do I go around bragging about my financial success like some on here feel like they need to. But I guess that need to brag to everybody about how rich you are, kind of goes along with the inability to even understand that some people actually care more than about themselves. Both of those traits reveal just what sort of human being you are. You don't realize it, Guest, but your self-referential posts just make you look like a douchebag to everyone else.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

Of course you want people richer than you to pay more tax, so that those you favor can benefit.

But the real test is whether YOU are willing to pay more to benefit others.

That's the problem I have with the left. they want people like me to pay more tax, but they do not want to pay more tax, hiding vehind some dumb 99% epithet.

And if you really want to give more to benefit the community, Greg, then you can do that now thru charity and volunteering. No need to tell others what they should do. Make a difference yourself.

Posted by anon on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

Relying on volunteers and charity for basic human rights and social services is an admission that the system has failed. Those are emergency measures, not rational social planning. No one is telling you what to do, Trolley. We are simply pointing out that alternatives to your sad little world already exist, and
that some believe all people should be treated equally.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

I would gladly pay a 60% tax in exchange for free lifetime healthcare and edumacation. My effective tax rate is almost that anyway, and all I get are crappy roads, endless wars, and foreign aid to despots. Yeah, I know: "War is business, and business is good right now."

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

"Of course you want people richer than you to pay more tax, so that those you favor can benefit."

I benefit very little from higher taxes, except maybe for the peace of mind that would come from knowing there's a safety net if everything goes south. In that respect, virtually all of us benefit, no matter how rich we are... except maybe if you're Ron Conway or Larry Ellison. But we're not even talking about the 1% here. We're talking about a tiny fraction of 1% that's probably better off in all respects under the status quo.

"But the real test is whether YOU are willing to pay more to benefit others."


"And if you really want to give more to benefit the community, Greg, then you can do that now thru charity and volunteering."

Already do. But as Troll Killer said, it doesn't work that way. Charity and volunteerism will never be enough. It only works when everyone pitches in through organized programs funded by progressive taxation.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

Oh, c'mon, Greg, I know that you look forward to taking public transit when investment of higher taxes make it a competitive alternative to driving, right?

Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

I'm not sure if the question is serious or sarcastic, but the answer is a serious yes. I can only wish that public transit were a viable option. I totally envy the transit systems they have in many European cities, and I'm more than willing to pay whatever taxes it takes to make it happen. If you think that I prefer driving, you're wrong.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

I hope we get to test that hypothesis, I've been in the car with you!

Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

Muni is a disgrace and it has nothing to do with it not being subsidized too much.

In fact, Muni is subsidized too much, and it's cost base is out of control.

Higher taxes never brought prosperity to anyone, anywhere.

Posted by anon on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 5:30 am

Hydra-headed Trolls,
chop off the head of one,
and two more pop up!
And this one didn't even bother
to read the beginning of the thread,
or he/she/it would have seen the Scandinavian model.
Of course, Trolley is ignoring our own history, when Roosevelt
taxed the Hell out of the rich, and gave the money to the poor through
Unemployment Compensation, Social Security, and by employing 12 million people in the Works Projects Administration.
This lead to the greatest period of economic growth this country has ever seen.

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 10:59 am

ill-fated "tax, borrow and spend" interference.

The American voters went on to reject FDR levels of taxation.

Posted by anon on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

Without Roosevelt's policies, America would have been literally too weak to build the war machine needed to enter WWII. The problem with the American economy has nothing to do with a social safety-net, otherwise known as "civilized behavior," and everything to do with misplaced priorities. Granting monopolies and massive subsidies to "free-market" profiteers, giveaways of public money to foreign despotic governments and "free-market" bankers, maintaining 1000 military bases, continual wars since 1950; this is the root of the current economic catastrophe. The only way out is to EAT THE RICH!

Posted by Troll Killer on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

demographics destroyed the viability of them since that could not have been predicted. But rather that, when the trends that rendered them doomed were realized, the politicians did nothing about that.

The problem was then compounded by LBJ and it is ironic that the original social security idea, although representing a significant future unfunded liability, is not the biggest worry. That is MediCare and MediCaid, whose liability figures are truly stunning, and made worse by the abortive behemoth that is ObamaCare.

You cannot blame capitalism for those problems since nations wwith much less capitalism are also suffering problems with their entitlement programs. So it is the principle that is structurally flawed.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

Yes, you can blame capitalism, because as money has shifted from wages into capital, those gains are not taxed as wages would be. Financialization, globalization, deindustrialization and oursourcing have their consequences.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

That's true in every nation on the planet that I know of.

Why? Because income is assured but gains may or may not happen.

Investing money in the hope of a gain involves RISK, and nobody will engage in risk unless the rewards are higher i.e. the taxes are lower.

That's why cap gains and dividends are taxed at the relatively low rate of 15%, before the State gets their take anyway.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 6:31 am

The New Deal is what bailed out the U.S. economy and it only faltered in 1938 when Republicans succeeded in forcing spending cuts. Keynesian economics *works*; Don Regan's "Laffable" economics does *not* work.

A vibrant economy is one where there is plenty of value changing hands. Keynesian economics primes the pump which has gotten an air bubble in it.

Taxes cause money to change hands and this is why high taxes accompany vibrancy in the economic planes -- not to mention their postential to benefit on the cultural and social planes.

Possessions make the possessor poorer after a certain point and the disproportionate power wealth places into the hands of such richness-impoverished people makes the human race poorer.

Chew on that, trolls.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 31, 2013 @ 2:37 pm