Issue for domestic workers shown to students

Silvia Cubides (left) a domestic worker and her interpreter, Daniela Sackzek (right) a political science alumnus of the University

That little grey building in between SIPA, the Law School and the Rec Center at the Modesto A. Maidique campus is not always as barren as it looks. Last week on Friday the documentary “Maid in America” was shown to students at an event that was simultaneously held by multiple organizations on campus at the Labor Center.

The Anayansi Prado film focused on the conditions and lives of three domestic immigrant workers — house cleaners and nannies among other types of employment — living in Los Angeles, Cal.

Prado, who was scheduled to make an appearance at the showing on campus, was unavailable due to the President of the United States being in Miami and traffic being changed to meet his needs.

In charge of the event, Cynthia Hernandez, who works at the Labor Center as a Senior Research Associate, Instructor and Director of Internship Programs, gave some basic information as to what the topic was focusing on.

“The Labor Center here is the only one in the state of Florida,” Hernandez said. “We are having this event to highlight what domestic workers do for us not only here in South Florida but also around the country and to understand their importance in our lives.”

She also spoke on the stereotype of domestic workers.

“When someone hears about domestic workers they think of secluded, low-paid women and that is currently exactly what they are,” Hernandez said. “They barely make the minimum wage and many of them do not even make the minimum wage. There is probably only a handful who have any health benefits, sick leave and, until recently, they were excluded from the minimum wage law in the US.”

The groups – The FIU Center for Labor & Research Studies, The Florida Student Justice Alliance, Alpha Kappa Delta (the Sociology Honor Society), The Global Social Culture Club, Lambda Alpha

(the Anthropology Honor Society) and the Miami Workers Center – who all co-hosted the event, also brought in a former domestic worker from Miami-Dade County.

That former domestic worker, Silvia Cubides, and her translator, Daniela Saczek, spoke about some problems that she had encountered working in the domestic field. Saczek is an alumni political science major who is currently doing the Labor Studies internship.

“I once had to fall down stairs so that I could leave early,” Cubides said. “It was a terrifying experience.”

Cubides is a member of the Miami Worker Center and is an organizer within that organization.

“Without these important women, most of us would not be able to work and the economy would come to a standstill,” Hernandez added. “We would be unable to leave our homes and have no one to care for our children.”

Hernandez also explained one of the main transitions in domestic workership.

“This work was previously done by African-American slaves and most recently immigrant women have gone into the role of the domestic worker,” Hernandez said. “What we are seeing now is that they are standing up and fighting for better work conditions and they are starting to organize.”

About the Author

Rhys Williams
: Sports Director, Class of 2016, Physical Education: Coaching (Major), Communication Arts (Minor), Sports Enthusiast with a Focus on Football and Track & Field.

1 Comment on "Issue for domestic workers shown to students"

  1. This is a great article! However, a small correction, I completed the internship while I was a student at FIU. I am currently an organizer at the Miami Workers Center.

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