Friday, January 30, 2009

brief update

For some reason when it's an inappropriate time to blog (such as in the middle of the work day), I feel inspired and motivated to write in here, but when it's an acceptable time (such as after work or over the weekend), I lose my motivation. There are so many things to write about - work has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. Encouragement and disappointment, a lot of challenges and frustration. The domestic worker project that I've been in charge of is going to switch over to one of my coworkers and I'll be focusing more on casework (mostly wage recovery). It makes the most sense in terms of our skill sets (approaching strangers on the streets does not come naturally to me) and continuity (my coworker will be here long after I leave in August). I think this change is going to relieve some of my stress and allow me to keep a slightly better schedule (yesterday I worked 12 and a half hours!). Tomorrow is our workers' assembly, and we're having our first domestic worker meeting right after. I'm crossing my fingers that people will come.

Last weekend we had an incredible JVC retreat that focused on social justice. I took pages and pages of notes, and I'd like to turn them into a blog entry sometime soon. The retreat was led primarily by Fr. Fred Kammer, former president of Catholic Charities USA, who is absolutely amazing.

If anybody has job leads or ideas for what I should do with my life after August, please let me know. I'm thinking of a second year of JVC, but in the Bay Area. I'm still not sure if that's what I want though...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Article: Workers on Edge Need the Most Stimulus Aid

This is a good article focusing on women in low-wage work and how they're suffering in the current economic situation:

(WOMENSENEWS)--While Washington lawmakers are debating President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus proposal, Blanca is cleaning houses.

We, however, are listening closely, ready to respond to any package that does not include several easy steps, outlined below, to ensure that low-wage working women are also assisted by an economic stimulus plan that could swell to $850 billion. Otherwise we will continue to put forward old solutions to new problems.

Blanca is the parent of four children ranging in age from 5 to 13. She has no health insurance, and if she misses a day of work she also misses a day's pay. She juggles child care to keep her cleaning jobs. Her sister helps with the children during the day before going to her restaurant job at night. Blanca makes about $1,000 per month.

Blanca is a low-wage worker. She is one of 30 million U.S. residents who are heading families that include 20 million children.

Sixty-eight percent of low-wage workers are women. Nearly one-third of women in the work force have low-wage employment compared with one-fifth of male workers. Women bring home at least one-third of all family income, a significant contribution to the stability of the U.S. economy. Any plans for stabilizing the economy will need to consider the larger effects that job loss and women's declining wages have on communities.

Read more here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The day it snowed

Here's a photo of my roommates and me when it snowed in Houston last month. :-)

Please pray for my cousin's daughter, Maya, as she struggles with cancer.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My day

It has been a terribly long time since I've written, so it seems like this post should be a really good one, but since I'm supposed to be working right now (ssshhh), it will have to be brief/quickly written. A quick overview of my day:

Went out into West University Place, a little enclave of Houston that has its own mini-city government and is full of rich people and beautiful houses. I walked around parks in the neighborhood looking for domestic workers (blatant racial profiling, looking for non-white women with white children). I saw a whole lot of domestic workers inside the parks, but there were also a lot of moms there, and I'm always concerned about 1) possibly getting a worker in trouble for talking to me and 2) looking like a creep when I go into a park with no child (these parks are fenced off - you can't really casually wander through). I did talk to a few workers around the parks though, giving them our flyer, asking them what their work is like, letting them know about us as a resource for any worker who has issues, and inviting them to our next meeting. I do this pretty much every morning.

Went to meet with a woman from Christian Community Service Center in Houston. They have a training course in housekeeping for recent immigrants, so I'm hoping to talk to their class about workers' rights. We left a bunch of Workers' Rights Manuals with them to give to anyone who passes through their center and mentions workplace issues.

Came to the office and began avoiding work (checking emails, blogging, etc.). For the rest of the day I'll be working on wage theft cases and pulling together the documentation for what I've done so far on the domestic worker project. There's a new intern coming in on Monday who's interested in helping with this project, so I need to get myself organized.

This evening after work I'm going to do some grocery shopping for the house (I've acquired a car since the last time I wrote in here), be at home briefly, then head out to some bar near Rice University (supposedly with 85 cent beers, which I won't be drinking), where a couple roommates and I will meet with a man named Francisco who may be taking us to El Salvador in March.

A good day today. And hooray for the weekend!