The Nanny Uprising
By Jennifer Gonnerman
Photo of Angelica Hernandez who sued her former bosses, claiming she was paid less than minimum wage.
The Recession Has Been the Ultimate Recruiting Tool. Nannies Who’ve Been Sacked Without Warning are Primed to Fight Back.
This week New York State moved a crucial step closer to passing a bill of rights for domestic workers. It’s been a long time coming for nanny activists like Patrice Francois, whose politicization led her into an ultimately violent conflict with her employer. As contributing writer Jennifer Gonnerman reveals in this week’s New York magazine, in the struggle for household workers’ rights, the political is getting very personal:
The new law would cover all 200,000 domestic workers in the New York area—whether they work on the books or off, whether they are legal residents or not—giving them recourse if their employer disregards the rules. Supporters believe it has the potential to alter dramatically the nanny-employer relationship. The tenor of job negotiations changes when a nanny is not just asking for paid vacation time but pointing out that she is legally entitled to it. No doubt there will be a period of adjustment and some employers who resist. But considering the number of parents who post questions about how to treat their nannies on sites like Urban Baby—How much of a raise should I give my nanny? How should I let go of my nanny of five years?—it’s evident that many employers are trying to get this relationship right. While the Bill of Rights doesn’t stipulate wages, it will provide something that many parents seem to want: clarity.
Donna Schneiderman first heard about the Bill of Rights in 2008, after an organizer from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice visited her daughter’s Hebrew school in Park Slope. She supports the bill, “so that as employers we’re not winging it.” Schneiderman has employed the same woman to care for her children for eleven years. “Yes, there will be an awkward transition for those of us who have been long-term employers, and there might be a financial impact for some people who may not have been paying vacation pay or who may not be paying for sick days,” she says. “But I think the next wave of new parents will be better off for it. That will be their new standard.”
Read on at http://nymag.com/news/features/66471/