Ai-Jen Poo On How We Make It All Work

By Team Mash-Up

It’s called the care economy.

“I really believe that care and caregiving can save the soul of the country. Everybody has people that they care about. It totally connects us in this very deep, emotional way.” —Ai-Jen Poo We agree with Ai-Jen! We had SO MUCH FUN in this conversation. The paid work of caregiving – which is mostly done by mashy women – makes our economy and world move. Ai-Jen Poo is the head of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and one of the organizers of Supermajority. Ai-Jen tells us what it was like growing up between Taiwan and the US, and how her relationship with her grandparents meant that she never was ashamed of her mashiness. There is a direct line between her mash-up origin story and how she ended up working with domestic workers and becoming one of the organizers of our generation, and we can’t wait for you to hear it.

Amy S. Choi: Ai-Jen is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and she has one singular goal which is to center and create more value around care in this country. This goal has manifested in working for and winning advancements in rights for domestic workers in eight states.

And this year, she has helped create legislation that is being introduced on a federal level to protect domestic workers across the country. Which by the way the legislation has backing by Kamala Harris.

Rebecca Lehrer: Yes, it does. This work that she’s doing is important for so many reasons. The stats out there are insane. So over 2 million women are employed to care for our nation’s homes and families. And these women have traditionally been exempt from the labor laws that protect workers in other industries in the country.

And we know that many caregivers are immigrant women and women of color, meaning that they are already in vulnerable populations.

Amy S. Choi: Yes, 70% of these women are not making minimum wage and 65% of them do not have any sort of health insurance compared with 9% of uninsured people in our overall population, which is crazy. I mean, who’s taking care of the people who take care of us?

Rebecca Lehrer: Right? Well, Ai-Jen for one, and all of the incredible people that are a part of the various organization that she helps run.

Amy S. Choi: Ai-Jen is also so much more than her work. She has a deep love of her family and Taiwanese heritage which was instilled in her by her grandparents from a very early age. What is your bubbemeise which is like an old wives tale from your culture that maybe you don’t totally believe but actually you secretly do.

Ai-Jen Poo: If you don’t eat all the rice in your bowl you’ll get a lot of zits.

Amy S. Choi: That’s definitely what happens with rice.

Rebecca Lehrer: Oh, wait I’m going to say that every time. That’s why I’m picking the last grains pick one finger tip at a time. What is your favorite language to swear in?

Ai-Jen Poo: English.

Rebecca Lehrer: It’s very strong.

Ai-Jen Poo: I mean, it’s very strong, very compelling and my grandparents taught me Chinese so I think the swears that I know in Chinese are like, “You ugly turtle.”

Rebecca Lehrer: Your talk to your Chinese born and raised family and they’re like, “That’s not a thing.” Why are you cursing from the 1940s?

Ai-Jen Poo: Yeah, exactly.

Rebecca Lehrer: How do you mash-up?

Ai-Jen Poo: I love the concept of mash-up so much on so many levels, one because I have a hyphen in the middle of my name. It’s like my whole thing is a mash-up.

Rebecca Lehrer: You are a hyphen.

Ai-Jen Poo: I am a hyphen.

Rebecca Lehrer: Hell yeah.

Ai-Jen Poo: But I am a Mash-Up of so many different influences and cultures. And I was raised heavily by my grandparents who are from Taiwan and Mainland China. They migrated from China to Taiwan in the 40s. And then came to live with us when they retired in the United States. But I went and spent every summer with them as a child.

And lived with them from six months old to when I was old enough for preschool. So my first language, my first school experience. My grandmother potty trained me, which was definitely useful.

Rebecca Lehrer: I feel like that happens early in China. Is that it?

Ai-Jen Poo: Yeah.

Rebecca Lehrer: Because in my experience traveling in China, I was like, “Okay. I like this.”

Amy S. Choi: Look at all those little butts exposed over here.

Rebecca Lehrer: Little buttons on the back of the pants.

Ai-Jen Poo: Oh yeah. At the time when I was little, the toilets weren’t a thing. Just like a hole in the ground and everybody just squats.

Rebecca Lehrer: Which is very perfect for a child.

Ai-Jen Poo: It is. Actually, it was good. I don’t think I realized that at the time, but it ended up being good for everyone involved.

Rebecca Lehrer: Were you the eldest child and did any of your siblings get sent to Taiwan to be with their grandparents and raised by them?

Ai-Jen Poo: So yes, I’m the oldest child. There’s two girls, my sister’s four years younger than me. And she also in summers, she came with me to Taiwan, but I was the one who was there from six months to two ish, almost three because when my mom had me, she was a graduate student. And she was on her own in Pittsburgh.

My dad lived in Baltimore where he was in school. And she was on her own, studying chemistry, learning English, working, assistant teaching, all the things. And having a kid was just too much. She was the only person in her class who had a baby. Her classmates were really helpful when she actually went into labor, it was her classmates who found her, took her to the hospital and stayed with her through labor.

But it just was too much. So she basically called up my grandma and said, “I’m going to send my girl.” And it ended up being a huge blessing for me.

Rebecca Lehrer: It sounds like it’s really a positive experience. We talk about caregiving in so many different ways, and we’ll get into that. But in this experience, is there any trauma or was there any of separation from your parents so early? Or because of the setup, that’s not how it’s informed you in your DNA?

Ai-Jen Poo: It never felt like there was any trauma honestly. I love being with my grandmother, it is the closest thing to feeling I’m home. Wherever she isvfeels like home, maybe for this reason, and I’m so grateful to have that. I do have funny memories though, in the summers when I would go … My Chinese obviously wasn’t as good as the kids who are there.

And school goes through the summertime so my grandmother actually put me in school in Taiwan, but a grade lower than I would be in the US. So I would have to go as the second grader to the first grade classroom. And they were just … I was a head taller than everybody and people would … The other kids would pee their pants during nap time.

I would just be so insulted and it would be so undignified. And then they also believed in spanking in the classroom. And I remember the first time I saw a teacher, actually physically, spank a kid I ran home to my grandmother was like, “Child abuse is happening in the school!!”

Rebecca Lehrer: She’s like, “Relax American girl.”

Ai-Jen Poo: Totally. She was like, “What are you talking about?”

Rebecca Lehrer: Sounds right. Yeah.

Amy S. Choi: So that was definitely … That’s kind of your immersion from, I don’t know, I’m using my air quotes “West” to “East.”

Ai-Jen Poo: Yeah.

Amy S. Choi: What was your life like when you were with your parents in America during the rest of the year?

Rebecca Lehrer: And where were you? So you were born in Pittsburgh. You go to Taiwan for a couple of years. And then you come back and where did you guys land?

Ai-Jen Poo: We landed in Irvine, California in Orange County from when I was 3 to 12. Then we moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and in Irvine, all of my friends and all my parents’ friends were Asian immigrants. And so I basically only hung out with people who look like me. And then when we moved to New Haven, there was not an Asian for miles.

Rebecca Lehrer: I also lived in New Haven, I went to Yale for graduate school. And I would have said the same thing about it.

Amy S. Choi: Then your grandparents from Taiwan joined you in New Haven?

Ai-Jen Poo: That’s right.

Amy S. Choi: So you always had this continuous line with your extended family and the different layers of generations.

Ai-Jen Poo: That’s right.

Rebecca Lehrer: And what did you call your grandma and grandpa?

Ai-Jen Poo: On my mom’s side, Popo and Gong Gong. And on my dad’s side, Yeye and Nai Nai.

Amy S. Choi: Wait, did all four of them come?

Ai-Jen Poo: At different times. I was so lucky.

Amy S. Choi: So I think this is an experience that makes sense to me and when I talked to my white American friends about family all piling in together they are shocked. They’re like, “They live with you, what? How did everybody fit? Your aunts?” And I’m like, “Yeah, people came. They stayed. Me and my sister, we slept in the same bed.” That’s just what you did.

It really took well into adulthood for me to realize that this was a mashy experience or this was an immigrant experience.

Rebecca Lehrer: Totally.

Amy S. Choi: Did you have an understanding then that it was unusual or because you had such a strong influence of Chinese and Asian culture in your life, that it was just like what people did?

Ai-Jen Poo: Well, I knew that it was unusual, because, you know, starting from 12, we were in New Haven. And not only was it mostly white people around us, but it was a very particular kind of New England, Connecticut, white culture. That felt really foreign and was hard for me to adjust to. It was definitely shocking. My teachers also didn’t know what to do with me. And my mom used to get into fights with them all the time for different reasons. But so I knew it was different and special, but I also never felt ashamed about it. And there were aspects of culture where I did feel shame, like, the difference was associated with negativity.

But for me with the grandparents, it was like, there was always somebody to pick me up. There was always amazing food in the house. And somebody to snuggle with and my grandfather was a Tai Chi instructor. And so just one of my favorite things to do is to watch him do his Tai Chi in the morning from my bedroom window.

And so it was such a part of what I loved about my life that I don’t think I ever associated it with anything negative.

Rebecca Lehrer: Which is wonderful to have. In the work that we do, we really see the range of pride and shame that we’re all navigating.

Ai-Jen Poo: That’s right.

Rebecca Lehrer: I mean, it’s so important to us to kind of dig into. There’s different ways in which some of us have more friction earlier on within ourselves than others. And I think really wonderful, there seems to be maybe a way in which this has informed your work, because it’s always come from a sense of pride. Right? It’s so deeply in who you are.

Ai-Jen Poo: Definitely the grandparent thing. Absolutely. I mean, I can’t imagine who I would be if I hadn’t spent all that time with my grandparents and each of them have given me such different gifts. But there were definitely things that I’ve felt ashamed about or I definitely felt I didn’t fit in all the time, and that I was unattractive. And some of that too was reinforced by my grandparents. Where they were like, “Your nose is too flat,” or, “Maybe one day you’ll get eye surgery.” That kind of thing.

Amy S. Choi: Ahh, that old game.

Ai-Jen Poo: You know this game.

Rebecca Lehrer: What is double eyelid surgery called?

Amy S. Choi: I can’t remember.

Rebecca Lehrer: Whatever. The un-mono-lid surgery.

Amy S. Choi: Exactly.

Rebecca Lehrer: “You’re so beautiful, except if only you were skinny.”

Ai-Jen Poo: Exactly!

Rebecca Lehrer: Classic move.

Ai-Jen Poo: “…Except if you had a totally different nose.”

Amy S. Choi: “Just be a different person, you’ll be great.”

Rebecca Lehrer: Does your sister have a similar relationship to your grandparents?

Ai-Jen Poo: Yes. And she and my grandpa in particular were BFFS. I mean, they were like a permanent fixture at the Burger King near my house. The three of us were, but especially the two of them. They watched Wheel of Fortune every night.

Rebecca Lehrer: Oh, my God.

Ai-Jen Poo: It was the ritual.

Rebecca Lehrer: Now, that you spent time in LA are you like, “I gotta meet Pat Sajak!”

Ai-Jen Poo: I mean, definitely.

Rebecca Lehrer: He’s still in there.

Ai-Jen Poo: And every time I see Pat Sajak I miss my grandpa. It’s a thing.

Amy S. Choi: So I would love to now dive into the work. It makes so much sense now that the work that you’re doing is driven by such like a personal passion. When did you first start thinking about caregiving and domestic work as where you were going to center your energies? Was there a direct line from your family experience to that? Or was there a specific experience that got you there?

Ai-Jen Poo: Well, what’s so, interesting about even the story of how I got here is kind of a mashy story in that I actually started out doing feminist activism in high school and college because I actually saw patriarchy in Chinese culture and that just made me angry.

I joined the women’s forum in high school and I was a women’s studies major in college and I started volunteering at a domestic violence shelter when I was in college in New York City for Asian immigrant women. And I could volunteer there because I spoke Mandarin, because of my grandparents.

And I worked the hotline, so, answering the phone through the night. If people called they were in situations of abuse and needed support. And it was like a lot of women call because they were in crisis. And then there was this kind of persistent crisis that was about economic security for women.

So much of what they were dealing with was the pressures of having to start on your own, leaving an abuser, figuring out what to do with your kids, if you can actually pay the bills on your own. And so many of them were working long hours, like 12/14 hour days, and not able to pay the rent or pay for childcare.

And I was like, “How is it that these women have started over against all odds,” right? Left their abusers, trying to be good moms, working hard and still can’t catch a break. And so that’s where I got into figuring out like, “What if jobs that women did could actually pay them a living wage?”

Rebecca Lehrer: You were so young, right? You were in college?

Ai-Jen Poo: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Lehrer: How did you start to put together this through line? How did you start to realize like, “This person’s talking about economic insecurity?”

Ai-Jen Poo: I mean, I worked the hotline for a year before I really even understood that there could be something we could do about the fact that women get such low pay. I was volunteering at an Asian community organization called the Committee Against Anti-Asian violence.

And a group of us volunteers decided to form a project to just talk to women who are working in low-wage jobs to see if they wanted to organize and do something about it. And it was always the domestic workers who came to the meetings and came to the health fairs and I think it had to do with the isolation of working behind closed doors in someone else’s home.

And a lot of times nobody knows you work there except for them and you and you could walk into any neighborhood and not know which homes are also workplaces. Right? So there’s just a really unique kind of isolation doing that work. And so they always wanted to come together and we just kind of started organizing.

And I didn’t even know what organizing was or even how to put together an agenda for a meeting. We just trusted each other and trusted the intention and kept it going.

Amy S. Choi: Can you define for our listeners, the broad swath of women who might fall under “domestic worker”?

Ai-Jen Poo: Yeah. So when we say domestic workers, we mean anyone who works in our homes doing caregiving or cleaning so it’s nannies, it’s house cleaners, it’s home care workers. And these are among some of the fastest-growing occupations in our whole economy. When I first started doing this work in the 90s, when I was in college, it was very much seen as a marginal shadow part of our economy. Today, when you look around the conditions that define domestic work like no job security, no access to benefits, no safety net, no training, no career pathways, low wages, or unpredictable wages and hours, right?

Those conditions describe more and more of the American workforce today. That’s why we call domestic workers the original gig economy workers. We’ve been dealing with this gig life forever. And because there’s this huge and growing older population with the boomer generation aging into retirement at a rate of 10,000 people per day.

And people living longer than ever because of advances in health care. We’re going to need a huge elder care workforce to support people we love like my grandparents to be able to live with dignity as they grow older. We’re just not quite ready for it yet. So the workforce is growing really quickly, and our families are changing.

And I think this intergenerational way of life that Asians and other immigrant communities have kind of lived by all these years is going to increasingly become the future in this country.

Amy S. Choi: Right. I mean, so the challenge that our culture is facing is making sure that domestic workers and caregivers are earning a living wage and that the industry is professionalizing and organizing in different ways. Is this a uniquely American problem because we don’t have a culture of intergenerational relationships as deep as there is in as the rest of the world? Here, we don’t have villages to help raise our children.

Ai-Jen Poo: It’s true. I mean, there’s aspects of it that are uniquely American in that the history of how we’ve so devalued this workforce is very racialized. It’s very much rooted in the fact that the first domestic workers were enslaved African women. And our labor laws, when they were put into place, they explicitly excluded domestic workers and farm workers because they were African-American at the time.

There’s just a long history of racial exclusion that’s really shaped how we marginalize and make these workers vulnerable. But I will say that … I think that around the world, this question hasn’t been figured out, because it’s always women. And it’s often women of marginalized social status who do this work.

And they are never paid well, and they’re never fully valued for the value they offer our families and our economy. And that is pretty universal. And that has to change in the 21st century because we need so much more care than is available to us.

Rebecca Lehrer: Amy and I both have young children. I feel the number one thing I say we’ve learned is the relentlessness of parenthood.

Ai-Jen Poo: Yes. There’s no vacation.

Rebecca Lehrer: It’s all the time. And so that brings us to caregiving. And the same with elder care. Right. So the intensity of this work and which should be very much more valued. And at the same time, it’s hard to figure out how to do it. How to afford it? How to make it happen?

Ai-Jen Poo: Oh, yeah.

Rebecca Lehrer: As the patron … I don’t know what the word is …

Amy S. Choi: Employer.

Rebecca Lehrer: Employer.

Ai-Jen Poo: It’s a mess. It’s a complete mess. Because this whole part of our economy, which for shorthand we’ll call it the care economy, this whole part of our lives, right? Which has real economic implications, like every part of our life, has been relegated to the realm of women’s responsibility and therefore made it invisible and devalued.

It’s created this whole massive part of our life’s experience that is just kind of chaotic. There’s no rules. There’s no guidelines. We call it the wild west of care. Basically, you’re just like, “What do I do?” And a lot of people want to do the right thing. And it’s actually really hard to figure out what that is.

Rebecca Lehrer: How many texts messages and emails and like, “What do you pay?” And then it’s like a survey of five people and you realize how much information is lacking and how much your personal networks matter. And what you learn about proper care or properly dealing with somebody and the respect we’ve talked about. I mean, Amy and I spend probably an hour a day, not a joke, talking about something related to caregiving.

Amy S. Choi: Absolutely. Because we’re business partners and friends, and we run a business, we have staff and people that we are responsible for as well. And we can’t do basic parts of our work unless we have first managed our care.

Ai-Jen Poo: Exactly.

Amy S. Choi: And both of us have partners in this. As much time as I spend talking to Rebecca about how we’re going to get through the day, I spend talking to my husband about how we’re going to get through the day.

Ai-Jen Poo: Yep. Yep. That’s why we call care the work that makes all of the other work possible. Right? Because without that first layer of whoever your care squad is, whether your nanny or your partner or both. We need a squad. And we need a little bit more of a sense of order or logic or guidance in terms of how to handle these relationships.

Because they’re only going to get more complex. Right now you’re dealing with children. This whole phenomenon of the sandwich generation where people are dealing with managing care for small kids and their aging parents who have Alzheimer’s. We call it the panini effect, because you’re just like squeezed between the pressures of care on both ends of the generational spectrum. And that’s hard enough, let alone how expensive it is.

Amy S. Choi: When I think about your work, and I think about the complexities of all of the things that we bring with us into any care relationship, much less a paid and professional care relationship. All I can think of is, it needs a total revolution. Because the incremental steps like pulling one lever over another and then trying to understand the dynamics of this one thing, or in the umbrella of people that you are advocating for, there’s so many different types of people and all of their cultural backgrounds that they’re bringing into it.

So I wonder as you’re organizing, and I’m assuming it’s primarily women and immigrant women, how do you need to cater either the message or the organizing to immigrants from the Philippines or from Guatemala or from Eastern Europe or wherever in the world?

Rebecca Lehrer: Or to communities that are mash-up but have been here for generations, who have a different relationship to the U.S. and a local community. How are you communicating differently to these different constituencies?

Ai-Jen Poo: It is a challenge, but you would be surprised at how much people want to participate. I mean, the level of pride that people take in doing this work, knowing that they’re playing a role in nurturing the potential of a child or upholding the dignity of an older person. People really take pride in it. And it’s a huge source of connection across difference. And this is where I just really believe that care and caregiving can save the soul of the country. Because everybody has people in their lives that they care about, or they worry about how they’re going to get the care they need. It totally connects us in this very deep, as you said, emotional way.

Now, there are really important differences, obviously, across all of us, but in my movement, you know, you have African-American women who have been here for generations. And many of them have family who’ve done domestic work for generations, beginning from slavery, and have seen the generations of racial exclusion and been on the front lines of that.

Others who just came here six months ago or, more likely, three years ago from the Philippines, left their own children to come here to work to care for somebody else’s children to send money back. And they’re part of a global care train. Right? That’s happening.

So practically speaking, it’s about making sure that every one of our meetings actually has simultaneous interpretation and at least seven different languages. We actually talk a lot about that on the front end. What does it mean to have a safe space where everyone regardless of where you’re from knows this is safe.

Ai-Jen Poo: And then we really celebrate it, like talent night at our annual meetings is the most popular thing. People actually make special costumes for it. People practice in advance and rehearse like it’s a big thing.

Rebecca Lehrer: Mash-ups do love a performance.

Ai-Jen Poo: They do.

Rebecca Lehrer: Like a Filipino dance performance at birthday celebration is beyond.

Ai-Jen Poo: It’s nuts.

Rebecca Lehrer: Beyond, all the way, and I fucking love it.

Amy S. Choi: I can also imagine like the competitiveness that would come from a potluck. Right? I mean like, “Oh no, my dish has been completely eaten.”

Ai-Jen Poo: Totally.

Rebecca Lehrer: But there is something you’re saying here which I love to dive into more and this is this pride. Culturally we have dismissed this work in terms of pay and literally everything else. But that actually there’s a deep professionalism.

Ai-Jen Poo: There is.

Amy S. Choi: It’s not like the workers aren’t professional, it’s that the larger world is not recognized them as professional.

Rebecca Lehrer: So can you give us an example of what you’re doing to institutionalize the work, and help the employers understand that there is a value that is here that you should be paying for?

Ai-Jen Poo: The way that we started our campaign, which is called Caring Across Generations, is because a bunch of the house cleaners and nannies in our membership were starting to be asked by the families that they work for to provide elder care. And they didn’t feel prepared to do that work because it was so different. Cleaning and childcare is very different from taking care of somebody with Alzheimer’s, right? And so they came to the Alliance and said, “We would love training in elder care.” How to support somebody who just got released from having surgery? How to support somebody who has dementia? Basic things like that.

And we were like, “Wow, this is such an interesting pattern that this is happening.” And what we realized when we started trying to understand the context is that there’s this massive growing older population and families are kind of trying to figure out on their own, how to care for their loved ones.

And of course, they’re going to go to the nanny or the house cleaner, because that’s who they rely on for everything else in their house. So we started the training in eldercare. We now have home care training happening in 10 cities. And we also launched this campaign to say how do we prepare together as a country as families and as workers for this growing need for elder care. And see it as an opportunity to actually make these jobs good jobs, while making it easier for families to find the support in the home they need.

Rebecca Lehrer: And that’s a great example.

Ai-Jen Poo: Specific skills.

Rebecca Lehrer: Because people are identifying “This is something I’m seeing in my work experience.” Now, they get to learn. And it’s a professional development.

Ai-Jen Poo: It is professional development. People who underestimate this work is one thing I don’t understand. It’s is so difficult to … I mean, I get so angry and frustrated in my work day to day. But if you’re a caregiver, you can’t do your job if you don’t care about the person that you’re caring for, you know what I mean? If you don’t love on some level, right? And the patience and the emotional labor and the –

Amy S. Choi: I mean, I cannot think of anybody I love more than my two kids, and I cannot care for them 24 hours of the day.

Rebecca Lehrer: Oh my god. You know what I could do … We talk about this a lot. I’m sorry to people who will be offended by this, but I’m not really sorry. It’s that I could definitely take a couple years off of working, but only if I had full time childcare!

Amy S. Choi: Well, we are running out of time, but we didn’t even get to talk about, by the way, what I will consider to be your big Oscar win. Congratulations on Roma.

Ai-Jen Poo: Thank you.

Amy S. Choi: You’re welcome.

Rebecca Lehrer: You’re welcome.

Ai-Jen Poo: I will accept that, yes.

Amy S. Choi: If we just have a few minutes now to talk about, what that has meant for you and what the next steps are for the NDWA?

Ai-Jen Poo: So a couple of things. One is in terms of what’s next for us. We’ve been working on state level bills of rights all over the country. Eight states and the City of Seattle have passed domestic worker bills of rights or legislation to protect the rights of this workforce. And we just realized that it’s time for there to be a national proposal that covers everyone in the country in this fastest growing workforce. Two and a half million women do this work. And so Senator Harris and Congresswoman Jayapal will be introducing the legislation in the next two months.

Amy S. Choi: Wow.

Ai-Jen Poo: I know. We’re kind of finalizing the language and getting all co-sponsors together. So it’s really exciting, historic after, gosh, more than 80 years of exclusion from labor laws, we’re finally getting recognized.

Amy S. Choi: I just got goosebumps all over.

Rebecca Lehrer: I think about the times when people get called out for where their lives don’t correspond with their politics. It’s often in the domestic sphere, right?

Ai-Jen Poo: Totally. Especially people who want to run for office.

Rebecca Lehrer: Like, “Oh, well, turns out I have really anti-immigrant sentiments but I’ve been employing many people who may not have all of their papers.”

Ai-Jen Poo: Oh my god. This is the place where all the complex stuff comes out. When Texas passed an anti-immigrant law basically criminalizing immigration.

Rebecca Lehrer: Cool.

Ai-Jen Poo: They made a carve out … The Republicans carved out the nannies and the house cleaners because they didn’t want their nannies to get deported.

Rebecca Lehrer: Oh, my God. I can’t breathe.

Ai-Jen Poo: I mean, so unbelievable.

Rebecca Lehrer: You can’t even write that story.

Ai-Jen Poo: What the hell! Yes. Okay. The other big thing we’re working on is a portable benefits platform called Alia. Basically, we’ve been tinkering away building this portable benefits product for domestic workers to get access to benefits for the first time. So basically, the way it works is you can go on myalia.org and you can sign your house cleaner up for an account and you make a small contribution of $5 on top of every cleaning that she does. And she can get contributions from all of her clients, and they all go into her account and then she gets to decide what benefits she wants. She can apply it to pay time off, or accident insurance, life insurance, disability, all kinds of insurance products that otherwise she would never get access to.

Amy S. Choi: Ai-Jen thank you so much.

Ai-Jen Poo: Thank you.

Amy S. Choi: This is such a delight.

Ai-Jen Poo: This is so fun. I can talk to you guys forever.

Amy S. Choi: Let’s do it again.

Rebecca Lehrer: We’re going to do it.

Ai-Jen Poo: Oh, totally. Totally.

Are you subscribed? Subscribe to The Mash-Up Americans wherever you listen to podcasts. We promise you’ll be happy.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+
FacebookTwitterGoogle+