Side note of the day: Soleil has Dacryocystitis. Tear duct infections. Lovely. She already had a minor procedure for this, but now we might need surgery. With lasers. Nance is not a happy camper. Not at all.
Sometimes, you run across bloggers that make you think, and hard. Lately, Jody over at Raising WEG has been doing this. There are 2 recent issues she brought up. I want to discuss hiring help for the house today. I have a house cleaner. I started this when I was on bed rest with Soleil. I suddenly was confined to the couch. I was not a happy camper. I hired a local company.
I ended up with two different women every time. They were white, American workers. I paid the company. I talked to some of the women and I found from their conversations that things were tough for them. Living paycheck to paycheck and trying to get enough for rent and their kids. I couldn’t decide if it was good, or bad to have hired this company. After Soleil was born, I was not comfortable with this company. Lots of reasons, but we fired them.
When we moved to our current house, I hired a friend. She was great. She had started her own business and she did a great job. Unfortunately, she had to quit to work in an office to make more money. We always paid her in cash. I spoke to friends and found another woman. She was from Brazil. She was wonderful, but she had her daughter do our house and slowly that relationship fell apart. We found another woman (again Brazilian) and we worked with her for a while, but then the first Brazilian woman asked if she could work with us again.
After much talking, we decided to hire her. Let’s call her J for fun! J left Brazil with her husband and two children. She joined family here in the States. She went through an abusive marriage, divorced her husband and raised the kids. She started cleaning houses for other people and then started her own business. As far as I know, she is a legal immigrant. I know she hires family. I do not know if she hires legally or not.
Jody brought up the issue of using immigrants for cleaning. Are we exploiting immigrants by hiring them "under the table?" This is a very good question. I think about J. Now J is a bit of an anomaly. She LIKES cleaning. She loves it! She has told me "this is hard work, but I love to see and smell clean houses". I don’t get it! I like clean houses too, but I hate the work!
Cleaning my house should not be an underground activity conducted by
people living on the margins of our economy. My aunt for many years
hired a local woman to clean her house, a farmer’s wife who reported
all her income and furnished documents to her employers every year at
tax time. I’d be more than happy to do that. Not one of the people I know locally with house cleaners has such an arrangement.
And she is correct, I have never asked J if she does income tax or how she works the Medicaid, etc. I DO know that J is documented. She goes back to Brazil once a year and this means she has the paperwork to travel. But she does drive a early model vehicle. She has a great relationship with a friend of mine and she once asked for an advance of payment because her cash flow was tight. She has called us about switching days and times so she can see a doctor (which I completely said yes). We have slipped her an extra $20 when the house is extra dirty. But we have never asked her "How do you pay your family?"
I don’t think, at this point, I would change my hiring of J. We definitely give her extra money at holiday time (and BEFORE Christmas, so she has the cash to buy what she needs, not after) and we tell her often how much we appreciate her. But do we contribute to her being pushed to the edge of the middle-lower class in the Boston Metro area? The rents here are outrageous. Really. She loves it here (there is a large Brazilian population in Boston). But can she afford it here? Her rates are not dirt cheap. She is not much cheaper than a company who can come out with different people each time and with insurance to make sure our home is safe… These are the same companies that offer ads with "Our women speak English!", the ads that make me just a little sick to read….
I don’t know, but dang it Jody, you are making me think!