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Tue May 28, 2019, 08:37 AM

A cleaning company with a lofty goal: transforming a low-wage industry

At her former cleaning job, Kimberly Reyes was paid a set amount, in cash, even if the house was a disaster. Sometimes there wasn’t enough work, so she got a second job working nights and weekends at a restaurant. Because she was a contractor, she had to save up to pay taxes on her income but didn’t always set aside enough.

But in December, Reyes, who lives in Maryland, started working for Well-Paid Maids in Washington D.C., which is launching operations in Boston Monday. Now she is a full-time employee making $17 an hour, with three weeks of paid vacation time and access to health insurance. For Reyes, who is studying to become a medical administrative assistant, the job is a revelation.

“I’ve never had a job that has benefits,” said Reyes, 26, the mother of a 15-month-old girl. Now that her hours are steady and her wages are higher, “I don’t have to stress about bills as much.”

Cleaning houses is not usually considered a desirable job. Most cleaners are contractors, with few job protections and no benefits. Well-Paid Maids is looking to change that with a business that founder Aaron Seyedian describes as “a living-wage home-cleaning” service.

His ultimate goal goes beyond just being a good employer, though. Seyedian envisions his company as a case study for the living-wage movement, one that demonstrates that traditionally low-paying industries can treat workers well and still be profitable. Once lawmakers see his real-life example, he hopes his modest cleaning operation can spark greater worker protections across the economy.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2019/05/27/cleaning-company-with-lofty-goal-transforming-low-wage-industry/VsPaNY7xdufl4DVPU7yVBN/story.html?camp=bg%3Abrief%3Arss%3Afeedly&rss_id=feedly_rss_brief&s_campaign=bostonglobe%3Asocialflow%3Atwitter

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Reply A cleaning company with a lofty goal: transforming a low-wage industry (Original post)
demmiblue May 2019 OP
marked50 May 2019 #1
ROB-ROX May 2019 #2
mountain grammy May 2019 #3
jmbar2 May 2019 #4
Ms. Toad May 2019 #5
Blue_true May 2019 #7
Ms. Toad May 2019 #10
Blue_true May 2019 #11
Ms. Toad May 2019 #12
hughee99 May 2019 #6
Blue_true May 2019 #8
hughee99 May 2019 #9

Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 09:43 AM

1. It's really good to hear

stories like this. I hope it works out well for their company and that it will expand to other areas. We need to know that there are movements such as this in counterbalance to all the corporate greed we are familiar with. Worker owned companies need more exposure too.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 09:44 AM

2. When I Read "WELL PAID"

I see outstanding service for a "good" wage. This benefits the worker and the place where the work is performed. I had always provided better work when I was paid better. There are lazy people who do not perform better no matter what they are paid, but this is a "minority" of people who I think are WHITE people (not a race, but a state of mind.) I think areas of our country which support and promote better wages will see an economic success as the "trickle down" or "spreading the wealth" occurs by people spending their money!!!

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 10:27 AM

3. The $20-$25/hour I charged to clean vacation rentals

pales in comparison to $17/hour with benefits! After paying my own taxes, insurance, etc. I ended up with $12 to $15/hr and no work, no pay. A paid vacation was only a dream.

Service industries can and should pay a living wage with benefits, as long as profits are distributed to those earning them; the workers.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 11:09 AM

4. Bravo!

Any business model that relies on impoverishing its workers doesn't deserve our support. IF I were in Boston and in need of cleaning services, this would be my first choice.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 11:44 AM

5. I would gladly pay enough to provide benefits -

if I could actually find people competent at cleaning.

We do a deep cleaning once a year - and are willing to pay as many hours as it takes to do that kind of cleaning. We also hire people who do the work themselves, so we are not imposing the expectation of a deep cleaning on people who get paid by the job, regardless of how long it takes.) I've given up hiring assistance, because inevitably their version of deep cleaning is running a feather duster over obvious surfaces. (My version of deep cleaning includes washing freqently touched surfaces - like light switches and the walls going up the stairs where people tend to touch, scrubbing the tile grout, cleaning the window wells.) Even when I spell out, in gory detail, what I expect - and the cleaner agrees to it - inevitably I spot one of the specific tasks I've pointed out that has been skipped within 30 seconds of walking in the deep cleaned room.

Although I'm currently a white collar worker, I grew up on the farm doing hard manual labor. I've also worked at jobs that paid well below the minimum wage ($1.25 in the early 90s - when I was paid by the job, so the job took as long as it took to finish.) Cleaning is really not that hard - just time consuming and tedious. I don't understand why I have neve been able to find anyone with enough pride in their work to do a good job at it.

Sorry to be grumpy on a good idea - it is just that this industry is a particularly sore point for me. In the 20 or so years I tried supporting people doing cleaning work, I've never had an experience where I didn't feel ripped off (because I always ended up redoing virtually everything I'd paid someone else to do).

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #5)

Tue May 28, 2019, 11:50 PM

7. Cleaning is hard.

I clean my grout twice per year, it is brutal because most large brushes don't work, so I have to use a finger brush. A wall can be three feet tall, cleaning each grout line is very difficult, then I have to move to the floor. Mind you, my place does not get dirty, I light clean walls every month, but still, grout is a bear that has my fingers, back and shoulders aching when I am done.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #7)

Thu May 30, 2019, 01:25 AM

10. As I indicated, I have given up on paid cleaners.

Which obviously means I'm cleaning my own grout. I would not call it hard. If your walls are only 3' tall, you have less grout than I do, since ours are 4-5' tall.

Even if it is hard, when you are being paid to do the work, there is no excuse for doing a job so poorly that the person paying you had to redo it. And I've never found a cleaner for which that was not the case. I wish that were not the case.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #10)

Thu May 30, 2019, 09:03 PM

11. My walls are 3 feet tall but I have small tiles, so a lot of grout lines.

I think that I build up more moldy areas in grout because I can only stand to take warm showers (when I have the water running). I get a lot of steaming and finish what I was doing and turn the bathroom fan off, leaving the moisture on it's own.

You are right about doing a good job if you are getting paid. But I am sure that you have hired many workers, craft at one's job is becoming harder to find today, it is a nightmare if you are trying to run a business.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #11)

Thu May 30, 2019, 10:59 PM

12. We get a lot of mildew -

Unfortuanately we live in a very moist area (just above the level of the nearby inland lakes), and we have well water - so we get a lot of rust and other mineral build up.

I've imagined opening my own cleaning business - with the experience I've had, I'm sure there are others out ther who would be willing to pay for really good cleaning. But generally my preference is to sell my mind, rather than my body to pay the bills. (Oddly enough I have a friend with a Phd who does manual labor since he prefers to sell his body.)

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 10:35 PM

6. Good for them, I hope it is successful.

Out of curiosity, I wonder what they charge. Do they charge more for the work, or have they found some other way of cutting expenses?

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Response to hughee99 (Reply #6)

Tue May 28, 2019, 11:56 PM

8. Their charge likely depend on who is supplying cleaning materials, gas, transportation.

If the cleaner gets $17 per hour and benefits, if the company is supplying cleaning materials and transportation, my guess is that they charge $40-$50 per hour minimum if they want to stay in business. Honestly, I would pay someone $150 just to deep clean my bathroom, because doing it myself is a bear, especially tile grout.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #8)

Wed May 29, 2019, 12:35 AM

9. I guess the question is, would people pay $150 when someone else would do it for $100.

Or are there enough people that would? Perhaps a business like this can do quite well in more affluent areas, but there would likely be many markets they just can't compete in based on price.

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