California Domestic Workers Coalition

“Now I outreach to other workers about their rights by sharing my story.”

I used to work for a couple who ran a team of housecleaners. I had to clean 3 homes a day. They would pick me up at 7AM with no finish time. Generally we’d end our day at 6:30PM and the maximum payment I would receive was $85 for the day.

I would work all day with no breaks, no time to eat. They made me use harsh chemicals to clean that were damaging my hands. The señora also had us use harsh chemicals to clean that were eating the skin on my hand. I tried not to use them as much, but she would see I wasn’t using the products and ask ‘why aren’t you using them, you have to use them!’ I would empty the bottles and refill them with vinegar and water because my head would hurt so bad.

Photo by Joe Ramos

Finally, I left. A friend had told me about La Colectiva. That’s when I learned about my rights and about the use of safe, natural products. The first home I cleaned after receiving these know your rights trainings, I was paid $120. All the pay was for me! I felt that my work was valued. In addition to that, before, I couldn’t even take my child to school because I left to work too early. Now, I can take my child to school.

La Colectiva helped and empowered me. And now I outreach to other workers about their rights by sharing my story. I give orientation to new members of La Colectiva. I am a facilitator 2 evenings a week.  We’ll see 20-25 workers who are looking for work and dealing with wage theft and safety issues. So we welcome newcomers and teach them about their rights.