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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

How one domestic worker in MI is fighting to protect rights of all

Photo of a person making a bed

After the renewable energy business, home health aids, housekeepers, cleaners, and nannies are expected to be the fastest growing occupations within the next decade according to the latest labor estimates from Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the state of Michigan these workers aren’t guaranteed overtime pay, insurance or even paid time off and the industry is largely made up by immigrants, and women. Flora Morales Gutierrez is one of them.

“Domestic work isn’t well paid and it involves a lot of work with little money. Sometimes one does it out of need because you need a job and you need the money so you just suck it up and accept a pay that isn’t fair.”  

But even though domestic workers are in high demand, they are among the lowest paid workers in the country. The median salary for a home health aid was $24,000 in 2018, slightly below than the federal poverty level for a family of 4 at $25,100.  And that’s why Morales Gutierrez founded her own cleaning company – The Best Pro Cleaning Services.  

“Its not valued. Its not paid, but I said to myself I have to do something different. I have to make a change. A change towards justice.” 

The Best Pro Cleaning Services offers construction, commercial and residential cleaning and pays all their employees up to $8 dollars more per hour than other cleaning companies around town.

“What I did is research what domestic workers earn in other states and I realized that workers in Michigan aren’t offered these wages and I think its because the labor of domestic workers isn’t valued the way it should be.” 

This past summer, senator Kamala Harris introduced a bill to give housekeepers, nannies, and home care workers overtime pay and meal breaks. So far, nine states have passed laws granting labor protections to domestic workers. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.