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San Francisco Domestic Workers Root For ‘The Help’ on Oscar Night

| February 27, 2012
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A group of San Francisco domestic workers, plus Tom Ammiano, root on 'The Help'. (Caitlin Esch/KQED)

Last night, housekeepers, home health workers, and activists gathered at an Oscar-viewing party hosted by the National Domestic Workers Alliance to cheer on the stars of the film “The Help.”

In the film, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer play African-American maids in segregated Mississippi. Both were nominated for acting awards, and Spencer took home the prize for best supporting actress.

Teresa Molina is a domestic worker from Mexico. She said through a translator that she has a lot in common with the Davis and Spencer characters.

“Yes, the movie was made in an entirely different time,” Molina said. “But there’s still so many similarities to what’s going on. There’s still that basic slavery almost that’s happening. People don’t value the work; their work isn’t treated with any respect or dignity.”

Molina says she has worked long days as an in-home nanny, earning just $500 dollars a month.

Enma Delgado immigrated from El Salvador to the United States eight years ago. Her three children still live in her home country with relatives. Delgado said through a translator that, like Viola Davis’ character Aibileen, she only made it through primary school. But she said she plans to send her children to college.

“In terms of breaking that cycle,” Delgado said, “like, [my] grandmother was a domestic worker, [my] mother was a domestic worker, now [I’m] a domestic worker. But it’s really important for [me], for [my] children to be able to do something else. But [I’m] really proud of the work that [I do].

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano was also on hand, drumming up support for a bill before the State Senate Appropriations Committee that would improve basic working conditions for domestic workers.

You can watch Octavia Spencer accepting her Oscar here.

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  • Mary

    Likening today’s home-help workforce with the actresses in “the Help” is senseless and insulting to workers and home-based employers!  Gone are the days of “slavery,” and here are the days of $8.00 per hour work, countless avenues for raising concerns, and jobs galore.  Mr, Amiano’s heart is in the right place, but he does not take his theory to the next practical level: mandatory overtime for home care workers will only cause a huge spike in cost for the ageing and inform, which will result in home care workesr’ hours being cut back to  8 or les sper day, and a net LOSS in income for them.   

    • Craig

       I agree with you Mary.  The fact Teresa Molina is paid $500 a month is deplorable.  However, if she worked for an in-home care agency she would make a minimum of $1,400 a month for full time work.  Mr. Amiano is right to protect workers like Teresa who are being paid less than current law dictates, however imposing higher costs on legitimate employers, and their clients, is a bad idea.