I’m Glewna Joseph, and I live in Brooklyn, New York. Before the pandemic hit, I had been a housekeeper for six years.
When I entered the industry, I did not have much knowledge about how it worked. It was just a job, and I had no idea that I had rights. I had been an accountant in St Lucia, and I didn’t put the two together, because accounting is valued so much more than domestic work. But it’s the same thing! At the time, I was a live-in cleaner. Jacqui, my organizer, said to me, are you aware that after 44 hours, you are entitled to time and a half? I was like, really? I was counting all the money I was owed in my head! After that day, I came back to the office the next Monday — and then I never stopped coming in. I became a domestic worker advocate, and I ended up leaving that job. How could I tell other domestic workers what their rights were if I kept accepting poor treatment?
Then the pandemic came, and everything shut down, and that was the end of it. It has been really tough. Thank god for NDWA — my beautiful community has supported me during this time. The Coronavirus Care Fund helped, and so did fellow domestic workers who chipped in a little to help me.
NDWA is my organization, and we fight for the rights of domestic workers. We have a lot of domestic workers out there that don’t know their rights, or they’re undocumented and they’re afraid to come out because of retaliation. But you need to join us so you know that whether you’re documented or undocumented, you’re a human, and you have rights just like everyone else. With numbers, we become stronger. Every time I do something with NDWA, I feel like I found my niche, that I’m in the right place.
In 2019, Glewna was elected to serve on the NDWA Housecleaners Council and from there was selected by her fellow Council members to represent the Housecleaners Council on the NDWA Board of Directors! At the beginning of the year, she began her 2-year term on both the Council and the Board. Watch Glewna’s powerful testimony at our Unbossed launch here.