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Title: Caring for Our Nation’s Caregivers: An Analysis of Domestic Worker Wellbeing and Mobilization during the Era of Covid-19 in Miami-Dade County, Florida
Authors: Tummolo, Gabriella
Advisors: Mann, Anastasia
Department: Princeton School of Public and International Affairs
Class Year: 2021
Abstract: Nearly 2.5 million domestic workers form the backbone of the United State’s modern economy, providing essential services to countless families, disabled individuals, elderly loved ones, and children around the nation. Yet, despite serving as essential workers both before and during the pandemic, the labor of domestic workers has long remained undervalued, poorly regulated, and largely invisible. Many federal and state labor protections continue to exclude domestic workers from their purview, ensuring that an industry dominated by Black, Latinx, and AAPI women remains largely precarious and prone to employer exploitation. In times of normalcy, these conditions have left many domestic workers subject to low wages, labor trafficking, employer abuse, and hazardous working conditions with few avenues for effective recourse. Thus, as pandemic lockdowns swept the nation, the wellbeing of this already vulnerable yet indispensable portion of the workforce grew increasingly endangered. This thesis examines how existing labor protections have, or have failed to, safeguard the financial, physical, and emotional wellbeing of domestic workers in Miami-Dade County, FL and around the nation during the pandemic. It further analyzes the impact of the pandemic on domestic workers’ organization and mobilization efforts - a key mechanism for advancing labor protections. Employing a mixed-methods approach, both qualitative and quantitative secondary source research was paired with qualitative primary source research to study these issues. Secondary sources included historical and legislative scholarship, 2019 Current Population Survey microdata on domestic worker demographics, survey data on domestic worker wellbeing during the pandemic, and media articles. Primary sources included guided but open-ended interviews, long-response questionnaire answers, and testimony from Facebook live events or tele-town halls with domestic workers, labor organizers, and representatives nationwide. Federal, state, and municipal labor legislation was also studied to supplement the legislative analysis informing much of this research. Findings advance that due to exclusion from many labor protections and inadequate enforcement of inclusive legislation, the pandemic has heightened the precarious and difficult nature of domestic work in Miami-Dade County and cities around the nation. Domestic workers have thus suffered in a multitude of ways, and this widespread hardship has forced many domestic workers to seek support from non-governmental, grassroots organizations - catalyzing unprecedented rates of domestic worker participation in community-level organizing and advocacy to gain better protections, even as outreach shifted online. Informed by these findings, the final chapter of this thesis advances policy recommendations for Miami-Dade, FL in order to better protect and support domestic workers as the nation oversees its post-pandemic economic recovery efforts. 
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2021

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