A majority of the immigrants who come to the US often lack the skills necessary for white collar jobs. Consequently, most of these people, especially women, find jobs as housekeepers in major cities in the US. Among the cities where Brazilian housekeepers get employed is Boston. This paper will analyze the ways in which the government, regulatory bodies, and other corresponding institutions have contributed to the mitigation of the plight of Brazilian housekeepers against fatal and non-fatal accidents.
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This work will address the main parties involved in designing and delivering intervention, specific groups taking part and the professional working towards mitigation through advocacy. The involvement of the community will also be discussed as well as important players that are yet to take initiative as there is a dire need for them to contribute. It will also evaluate how effective the interventions have been. The aspects of the intervention that have been a success and a failure will also be explored. Any multifaceted intervention will be mentioned as well as how they have complemented with the chosen intervention.
Immigrant workers are continually streaming into the US. Among these people are Brazilian citizens. Most of Brazilian workers take up domestic work due to their inadequacy regarding education (Burge, 2013). Therefore, they end up being housekeepers in cities such as Boston in Massachusetts. Brazilian housekeepers in Boston are exposed to non-fatal injuries while being at work. Many methods have been developed and devised as a means to mitigate and intervene into the issue. These interventions are very diverse such as information programs, targeted screening, media campaigns, legislative and regulatory campaigns, and changes to the physical and social environment. These measures have seen high success rates in various cities that have led to various groups coming up with ways of helping Brazilian housekeepers in Boston. These people undergo various problems and especially the non-fatal injuries in their line of work.
On top of that, their domestic workers rights are violated in different ways by their employers (Burge, 2013). Some of the ways in which their rights are outrages are a denial of sick days and off days, delaying of wages or withholding of travel documents (Healy & Woolhouse, 2015). Extreme cases include verbal and physical abuse of the housekeepers by their employers (Healy &Woolhouse, 2015). Such problems as well as complaints from the housekeepers have made the interventions necessary. Although, there are numerous ways with which these issues can be dealt, I have chosen the advocacy as a path for mitigating these factors in this paper.
Groups and Professionals Involved
Advocacy is the public support for a particular cause or policy. Brazilian housekeepers have been working in Boston for a long time without advocacy groups and labor unions. These two entities are important for any employee seeking employment under fair working environment. Many Brazilian housekeepers are not even aware of the existence of such groups and unions. Sensitization among the employees needs to be done since it will enable the groups to be more effective and address the problems accordingly (Brazilian Worker Center, 2010). Apart from being effective, advocacy helps in documenting all Brazilian housekeepers in the city since many of them work without any form of documentation.
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Recognition of the workers also helps in identifying the easily accessible centers that will help the employees seek aid if necessary. The groups that have contributed to the designing and the delivery of the intervention include the Brazilian Immigration Center and the Employment Impact Advocacy. These two organizations are the most active in advocating for the domestic rights for Brazilian housekeepers. The Brazilian Immigration Center, on the one hand, is an organization where immigrant workers and especially women housekeepers can seek for help and fight for their rights in the case where there are poor working conditions (Brazilian Worker Center, 2010). On the other hand, Employment Impact Advocacy is a group that concerns itself with upholding the passed bill of rights and any new legislation in Massachusetts (Greater Boston Legal Services, 2015). The two groups have implemented a number of changes both in the way Brazilian housekeepers are treated as well as the change of mentality concerning the housekeepers. Previously, many of the employees believed that it was right that the employers denied their employees certain things such as having time for their family and friends visits amongst other things. This, however, has changed since the employees have been provided with correct information concerning their service in the foreign nation.
Efforts of the advocacy groups have enabled the workers to get fair treatment and better working conditions. Some of the changes made include the introduction of a three-day paid rest period for Brazilian housekeepers, a day off for the workers, and, if the employee agrees to work overtime, he/she has to be paid the overtime amount. A right to overtime payment is, in essence, a payment for extra work done outside official working hours which amounts to forty-four hours per week (Garcia-Navarro, 2013). Due to the campaigns introduced by the advocacy groups, Brazilian housekeepers are now entitled to protection against workplace hazards, any forms of discrimination and sexual harassment. The groups can also secure proper ways, according to the Constitution, for employers to offer a notice in case of job termination and revised contracts when hiring new employees (Garcia-Navarro, 2013). Previously, Brazilian housekeepers complained a lot on their wages. Some of the housekeepers were paid below the minimum wage and thus were unable to meet all their needs such as acquiring of basic necessities and payment of bills. This issue was, however, addressed by the advocacy groups through the pushing for a change in the legislation. For instance, Natalicia Tracy, who is the Executive Director of the Brazilian Immigration Center in Boston, has been on the front line in fighting for domestic workers rights.
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The reason for her determined efforts to secure better working conditions stems from the fact that she worked as a nanny for some period and thus shares the experiences of Brazilian housekeepers in Boston (Garcia-Navarro, 2013). She combined her attempts with other women from different groups such as Women's Institute for Leadership Development in trying to make the domestic bill of rights revised and upheld (Brazilian Worker Center, 2010). They succeeded in getting three legislature members interested in the sponsoring of the appropriate reform of legislation. Several other organizations belonging to the National Alliance Domestic Workers have been drawn to the same cause as well. Combined efforts expressed by the various groups have led to visible changes that make Brazilian housekeepers safer regarding their health, psychology and overall life in their working environments (Greenhouse, 2013).
The community has also contributed to the changes occurring within Brazilian workers sphere. Ways in which the community is involved in this cause is by starting conversations that lead to movements. For example, Sarah Jaffe wrote an article in one of the local magazines called “Trickle Down Feminism” that inspired a national movement. The article was criticizing the manner in which feminists are careful to mention and celebrate efforts by ‘big’ successful women such as Marissa Mayer, who is the CEO of Yahoo, and neglecting ordinary females such as housekeepers who also impact on people’s lives daily (Brazilian Worker Center, 2010). It is such feedback and voicing of concerns within the community that makes the responsible people wake up and act upon the pressing issues. In addition to that, community members in Boston are beginning to tell their stories and express their plight to others, which brings about interaction.
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However, there exists a need for more groups to help in mitigation of the mentioned issues. They include Cidad?o Global, which is an organization dealing with grass roots organizing programs aimed at helping immigrants in the US (Cidad?o Global, 2015). This institution works with immigrants but there still exists a need to invest in helping Brazilian housekeepers in having their rights respected and complied. Another group that needs to be more involved in the intervention and mitigation of the issues concerning Brazilian housekeepers in Boston is the Women's Institute for Leadership Development. This group is concerned with women leadership and can, therefore, contribute to the advocacy efforts that groups like the Brazilian Immigration Center have begun.
Evaluation and Effectiveness
Areas of interest for the advocacy groups include the increase in minimum wage, the introduction of paid vacation and rest days, granting of sick days off to employees and giving them necessary breaks such as lunch breaks. The groups are also aiming at having better working contracts and giving of notice of job termination and protection against workplace hazards. Interventions have been successful because a new legislation regarding the domestic workers was recently passed in Massachusetts (Kirshner, 2008). The Employment Impact Advocacy group has been fighting for necessary changes in the contract of Brazilian housekeepers for over a decade. Finally, the efforts by the Employment Impact Advocacy have helped workers get the freedom to get sick days off. They no longer have to trade their health for work since this has been worked out (Patrick, Murray, Bigby, & Auerbach, 2015).
The new law mandates the employers with the responsibility of giving the workers sick days off thanks to the combined endeavors of the groups. Efforts have also led to increasing the minimum wages for Brazilian workers. Eliana Gomez, the director of Domestica, a union for domestic workers, said that the new law gives the workers maternity benefits which were non-existent before that legislation (Torres Ocasio, 2012). Apart from maternity benefits, the employees will enjoy paid overtime, paid vacations, an hour break for lunch and the employer has to contribute to the employee's social security (Tracy, Sieber, & Moir, 2014). However, efforts are still being made to push Brazilian immigrants to legalize their status in the US. Many of them are reluctant to get documented because of fear of being deported back to their home country where poverty is overwhelming. Immigrants come to the US seeking for better future and better living standards. Therefore, in as much as the legislation has solved the matters concerning the non-fatal related injuries at the work place as well as other issues, there remains much left to accomplish among Brazilian housekeepers. At least, groups like the Brazilian Immigration Center have mitigated the most acute issues such as underpayment, overworking, and the working conditions (Brazilian Worker Center, 2010).
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Reasons for the success in mitigating the problems can be contributed to persistence and combined efforts. The coming together of groups such as the Brazilian Immigration Center, Domestica as well as the Domestic Workers Union has contributed to the success. There is power in numbers, and the numerous national movements have also fought for change in the legislations (Torres Ocasio, 2012). Without persistence, the unions would not have experienced the achievement in pushing for reforms. Although the changes might have taken a while to be enacted, unions consider it a success for all their rallying for support and other efforts geared towards change. The success rate would have been improved if more groups that work with women and immigrant workers had been participated (Burge, 2013). Providing the relevant information regarding the rights of the employees has also improved the level of achievement since previously many people were unaware of their rights despite the fact of their existence. Conversely, ignorance forms a major drawback to the advocacy efforts. If the employee is ignorant of his/her rights and the laws regarding his/her job then the advocacy may fail (Auerbach, McCabe, & Davenport Whiteman, 2014). However, the success achieved cannot be underrated in as much as there is always room for improvement.
Other Multifaceted Interventions
Multifaceted interventions have however not been implemented in this particular case of Brazilian housekeepers. Nonetheless, they would include information programs for raising awareness among Brazilian workers. Another measure would be media campaigns. The media is capable of speaking and spreading a message to masses or pointing out ills in society. Therefore, to complement the interventions in place, media campaigns would be used as a platform for domestic workers to voice their stories, complains and problems in their working stations. Media campaigns can also lead to success in addressing the issues facing the workers and, in turn, increasing the success rate of the efforts made.
In conclusion, advocacy is an effective method of mitigating the plight facing Brazilian housekeepers. This has been illustrated by efforts of unions and groups such as the Brazilian Immigration Center, Employment Impact Advocacy, Domestica, and the Domestic Workers Union that have produced positive results. Some of the outcomes include the increase in minimum wage, sick days off, paid vacation, break while working, protection against hazards at the workplace, and against discrimination. However, documenting Brazilian workers is important in mitigating the problems. Brazilian housekeepers also need to be made aware of their rights so that they can recognize when they are being treated unfairly. Feedback should also be encouraged as well by the unions and groups responsible for more cropping issues to be addressed.