8 in 10 Latino domestic workers concerned over Monkeypox exposure at work.
8 in 10 Latino domestic workers concerned over Monkeypox exposure at work. Photo: Zeng Hui/Xinhua via Getty Images

8 in 10 Latino Domestic Workers concerned with Monkeypox exposure at work according to new survey

NDWA Labs surveyed Latino domestic workers on their working conditions & economic situation.


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According to a new survey from NDWA Labs, the innovation and research arm of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, eight in 10 domestic workers are worried about Monkeypox exposure at their workplace and more than half do not have access to affordable healthcare. 

NDWA Labs’ 2020 project La Alianza, a news chatbox, has been evolved into a first-of-its-kind research tool that surveys thousands of Spanish-speaking domestic workers. 

Paulina Lopez Gonzalez, an Economist in Residence at NDWA Labs said in a statement, "We've been checking in with these workers since the pandemic started because despite their critical work as the engine of our economy, many domestic workers – a majority women of color and immigrant workforce – were excluded from COVID relief support. While the nationwide unemployment has recovered back to pre-pandemic levels, the domestic workers we survey are still experiencing joblessness at much higher rates than before COVID-19, and high levels of economic insecurity," she said. 

"For many of the domestic workers we survey, the spread of monkeypox is worrying not only for health reasons, but for the uncertainty it layers on to an already uncertain landscape. They're not only concerned about getting sick or their family members being sick. They're concerned about all the implications that may come with that. Namely, losing work and, consequently, losing their income," she added. 

It is important information about a labor force that economic analysis discussions are ignored. The research is continuous and the project is able to put together regular reports on Latino domestic workers' work conditions as well as their financial situation. 

NDWA Labs has also done other similar surveys, such as one about the effects of COVID-19 on domestic workers in October 2020. 

“Spanish-speaking domestic workers who responded to our surveys experienced a rapid and sustained loss of jobs and income. This resulted in housing and food insecurity,” read the COVID-19 study. “The overwhelming majority of our respondents are mothers, and most of them are the primary breadwinners in their household. Most of the survey respondents did not receive unemployment insurance or the CARES Act’s $1200 stimulus check from the federal government. The lack of a social safety net, and the exclusion of many of them from government relief and benefits has left them even more vulnerable than they were before COVID-19.” 

Unfortunately, many of those same worries were discovered as surveys were carried out regarding Monkeypox. 

“I worry about getting infected in the workspace and not having medical attention and that I won't be able to go back to my work,” one nanny told those conducting the survey. 

Beyond nannies, domestic workers surveyed included house cleaners, and home care workers. They make huge contributions to the country’s economy with their work, but are often oppressed and the most marginalized. According to the Economic Policy Institute, even before COVID-19, domestic workers made less than the average American worker and were three times as likely to live in poverty or poverty stricken conditions.

As one of their main findings in the monkeypox study, “the vast majority of respondents have heard about monkeypox, but many lack information about transmission mechanisms and how to mitigate the risk of contagion,” the report said. 

2.96% of respondents said they had heard about monkeypox while 19% said they had no idea of how the disease is transmitted, with 25% saying they had no information about preventive measures. 

“57% of respondents reported having sufficient information about how monkeypox is transmitted, while 24% said they had some information. 55% of respondents said they had sufficient information about preventive measures to mitigate the risk of contagion, while 21% said they had some information,” the report said. 

Jenn Stowe, the Executive Director of NDWA said, 

"The concern shared by domestic workers we survey weekly emphasizes the importance of fighting for workplace protections, especially paid sick leave. And as the cost of everything from food to housing rises – combined with new health risks and an ongoing pandemic – we can’t stress how important these protections are for domestic workers. No one should be made to make the impossible choice between their own health and putting food on the table. These new numbers are eye-opening, and they fuel our fight for extending workplace protections for the workers who often compromise their own health to take care of others."

"NDWA has organized to pass a local Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in 10 states and three cities and brought over 2 million home care workers under minimum wage protections. Right now, the DC Chapter is working hard to pass the Domestic Worker Employment Rights Amendment Act of 2022 to ensure domestic workers in DC are included in key labor protections from which they have been excluded. And as we celebrate 15 years of NDWA this month, we are also working alongside our congressional champions to pass a National Domestic Worker Bill of Rights to ensure that the women who do the work that make all other work possible have the same workplace protections as other sectors of work," she added. 

One of the cleaners surveyed said they wanted more information about the monkeypox itself, its symptoms, transmission, and available protections such as a vaccine. 

“I’m worried if a client has that disease and we touch their clothes or personal items in order to clean and then get infected,” they said. 

More than eight in 10 respondents said they were very/somewhat concerned about exposure to monkeypox at work. 85% of respondents reported being very (45%) or somewhat (40%) concerned about the risk of contracting monkeypox at work in the next three months, according to the study. 

“This is higher than the 81% of respondents who, in the same survey, reported being very (44%) or somewhat (37%) concerned about the risk of contracting COVID-19 at work in the next three months,” the report continued.

Other respondents expressed concern being able to keep up with bills if infected with monkeypox. 

“If I'm living day by day with what I work..there's a lot of reasons [to be worried],” one said.

The final finding revealed that three in 10 respondents reported job insecurity as a result of monkeypox if spread worsens. When they were asked what worried them most about the increased number of cases, 30% said canceled jobs was their biggest worry with 63% saying catching the virus as their main concern. 6% selected “Something else” as their answer.

NDWA Labs began to survey on Aug. 26 and the findings of the report were released on Sept. 8.


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