Sarah McKinley and Violeta Duncan for Community Wealth: Worker Cooperatives Address Low-Wage Work and the Feminization of Poverty.
Women of color working low-wage jobs must often navigate unregulated work conditions, as much of their work is domestic labor—caregiving, house cleaning, child care—an industry that, historically, is not only low-paid but also exploitative. The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), a 10,000 membership-based organization for nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers, describes, in its 2012 Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work [PDF] report, the substandard conditions of domestic work, including lack of employment benefits, meager wages, exposure to toxic chemicals, and physical abuse.[more inside]
Such unhealthy work environments and insufficient pay have led a number of these low-wage women to take matters in to their own hands. Many have formed women-owned worker cooperatives that ensure good pay and healthy working conditions, help women overcome the isolation and vulnerability of domestic work, and empower women to build wealth for themselves, their families, and their communities.
"One of the most important aspects of the interview is to check the tidiness of the future help. Lam Ling checks the hands of a student." In a beautifully shot series, French photographer Gratiane de Moustier depicts the Indonesian women and Hong Kong employers who are linked together in global care chain, beginning at their training camp in Java to their final place of employment in the homes of Hong Kong families.
In an effort to explore the hierarchy and commonalities between maids and those who employ them, Justine Graham and Ruby Rumié created a photo exhibit entitled Lugar Común (Common Place) (pdf, text in spanish) of fifty female Latin-American employer-employee dyads. All women wear white shirts and no accessories. They sit in the same poses. There is no explicit indication of who works for whom. (via) [more inside]