By FRANK SHYONG
Sandra Martinez, 45, a housekeeper, used to work three days a week before the pandemic struck. Now she does the same work for one day’s pay, because her employer thought one housekeeping appointment was less risky than three.
She used to take three buses to work, an epic commute that made her workdays 15 hours long. Now she pays out of pocket for Uber, exhausting her savings, because her family heard that taking the bus was unsafe.
As we all try to take fewer risks, housekeepers, caregivers and child-care providers like Martinez have paid the price. Nearly three-quarters of domestic workers reported losing their jobs in an April survey. Many domestic workers who can afford only to take the bus to their jobs have lost them. A disproportionate number of domestic workers and their family members have contracted COVID-19 and died.
In California, an estimated 350,000 domestic workers employed by more than 2 million families have no workplace safety protections during a time when their work couldn’t be more dangerous or essential.