How to hire domestic workers ethically.
July 11, 2013 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm in Los Angeles and I'd like to hire a weekly or bi-weekly gardener and cleaning person. I just don't know how to do so in the most ethical way possible.

I know deep down that the best, most ethical answer is, "do it yourself, princess", but for the sake of the question, let's admit this personal failure and move on.

I would like the people I hire to use products and equipment they feel are safe. They should have the ability to set their own hours, and have or at least be able to afford basic benefits like health insurance. The rate they get should also adequately compensate for the miles they have to put on their car. I know in San Fransisco there's a domestic workers' co-op that was basically set up to ensure all of these conditions are met but I haven't found something similar in LA.

Im interested in hearig about any leads on firms who treat their employees well or ways of hiring directly (particularly in regards to managing and calculating pay, safety and benefits).
posted by Thin Lizzy to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Call the San Francisco co-op and see if they have any leads for your area. I would be hopeful that they can at least point you in a direction.
posted by bilabial at 10:03 AM on July 11, 2013

In fact, I went to the website for the NWDA and found

Pilipino Workers' Center of Southern California (Organizing Member)
Los Angeles
Phone: 213-250-4353

IDEPSCA (Organizing Member)
Los Angeles
Phone: 213-252-2952

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles CHIRLA (Organizing Member)
Los Angeles
Phone: 213-353-1333

Contact these organizations.
posted by bilabial at 10:06 AM on July 11, 2013

I used Citysearch in my city to find a well rated housecleaning business in our area, which is owned and operated by a neighbor who also is often one of the two people cleaning crew, and then I asked a lot of questions. As time has gone on, we have kept checking in with her employees about their benefits and treatment.

I think it is great to hire someone when you can afford it -- that is true job creation -- but of course you have to be a responsible employer. I think even actual princesses should shoulder this basic obligation.
posted by bearwife at 10:09 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Angie's list or the Franklin Report list services. The key phrase is licensed, bonded and insured.
posted by brujita at 10:11 AM on July 11, 2013

I got my landscaper from referrals and I'm really pleased with her. She typically hires a day laborer and I know she pays him a fair wage. She also went to Washington D.C. to lobby for Immigration reform.

My lawn guy hires local dudes to do our lawn. The guys seem to stay with him, I can only assume that he pays them appropriately.

Everyone has insurance, and that lets me sleep well at night.

I pay the landscaper $30 per hour, the lawn guy gets $80 a month for 1/4 acre.

I think these are fair prices.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:14 AM on July 11, 2013

Oh! The lady who deep cleaned my house came as a referral from my realtor, she also charged $30 per hour but did an AMAZING job. She's my backdoor neighbor.

Our neighborhood has a Yahoo group and the recommendations there are fantastic! I only wish I had known about before The Great Plumbing Debacle of 2006.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:16 AM on July 11, 2013

Talk to your neighbors - they may have recommendations.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2013

The cleaning person should be easier - ask around and find someone who does it as a sole proprietorship.

Gardening - you'll want to find a landscaper you can trust. Interview them and ask them how long the guys on their crew have been with them - that is really the best guide. The healthcare issue may not be tenable as its not uncommon for those guys to have issues surrounding their immigration status. Just talk with them though and get a sense of how they are as people. It might not be a bad guide to ask the folks at the workers centers who has contributed time or money to them as well.

My family businesses guys get all of those things you asked about - but bear in mind you pay a lot more for that. It works for my mom because she has a very specialized niche and she actively made a decision 15 years ago that she didn't even want to compete with the commodity landscapers precisely because she was uncomfortable with their employment practices.

Mow and Blow guys usually have the worse labor practices because that is as close to truly unskilled labor as it gets.

Angie's List or their regulatory/insurance status will be no indication of how they treat their laborers. In most jurisdictions you need that stuff just to put your name on a truck.
posted by JPD at 10:20 AM on July 11, 2013

I know deep down that the best, most ethical answer is, "do it yourself, princess"...

Paying people to do work is not somehow inherently less ethical than not. Just throwing that out there, don't feel guilty for employing people.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:20 AM on July 11, 2013 [17 favorites]

For people we hire directly, like a cleaning lady, we pay for vacation time and give a Christmas bonus.
posted by shothotbot at 10:27 AM on July 11, 2013

For people we hire directly, like a cleaning lady, we pay for vacation time and give a Christmas bonus.

I do something similar with my nanny. She gets paid sick time, holidays, etc. She is essentially a full-time employee though, not a few-hours-a-week contractor.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:28 AM on July 11, 2013

I have a great cleaning lady on the east side of LA I can refer you to if you memail me. She works on her own and I pay her a price she's determined in cash plus an extra week's pay at Christmas and an additional $20 or so thrown in if my place is particularly grimy after a party or something. If she can't come one week, she texts me to reschedule and it's not a big deal. Admittedly, I have no idea what she's got going on as far as benefits or anything else.
posted by justjess at 11:27 AM on July 11, 2013

I have used a worker owned and operated co-op called Magic Cleaners. They use non-toxic products too!

This co-op is a part of a non-profit called Instituto de EducaciĆ³n Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA). This same group also runs a day laborer program that offers landscaping services. I have not used the day laborer program but I have used Magic Cleaners. The did an AMAZING job on the last house I was moving out of. Seriously, what a transformation! I'm planning on hiring them again once I've gotten set up in my new house.
posted by dottiechang at 8:11 PM on July 11, 2013

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