Dearest HILSC Network,
To take time to rest, take care of ourselves, and pursue our collective well-being, is an act of rebellion. The years 2020 and 2021 were incredibly difficult. We have gone (and continue to go) through some roller coasters as individuals, communities, organizations, and just humanity as a whole. HILSC is going to be taking a break in August.
We wouldn’t be worthy of the space we hold as a collaborative if we didn’t reflect on the privilege of having paid vacations, as so few immigrant workers do. The truth is, given the benefits vacations provide, too few people, documented and undocumented, can take them.
The U.S. does not guarantee workers paid vacation. Nearly one in four documented workers have no paid vacation and 22% have no paid holidays. The average worker in the private sector receives only 10 paid vacation days and six paid holidays a year. Even when employees receive these benefits, distribution is extremely unequal. While 90 percent of
full-time workers receive paid vacation and holidays, only 40 percent of part-time workers receive paid vacation and
44 percent receive paid holidays.
For hourly wage workers, there are also striking disparities between income levels. Over 90 percent of high income-
earners get paid vacation and holidays, while only about half of low-wage workers (bottom 25 percent of all earners)
receive paid annual leave and paid holidays. The estimated 7.6 million undocumented workers (nearly 5% of all
workers) — overrepresented in essential jobs in agriculture, construction and child care — have little to no acces to paid
vacations. Even American workers who do receive paid time off are also reluctant to take it due to workplace
We are working together as a staff to nurture ourselves, reflect on the privilege of paid vacation, and to challenge the consistent urgency built into our work. We invite you to reach out to our staff to hear our intentions, what we learned, and incorporate more paid vacation and rest into your organization’s culture. Here is what is in store for us:
During the first week of August, HILSC will be engaging in a week of rest. HILSC will be closed to allow staff to rest, reset, repair, reflect, learn, grow, and nourish themselves (body, mind, and soul). This week of rest is an act of rebellion against a world of capitalism that monetizes time.
In the second week, we will engage in team building activities to build and foster relationships among staff. We recognize that the pandemic and working from home has made it difficult for us to get to know each other. We want to immerse ourselves in our relationship with each other. We cannot work as a collaborative in the value of consensus, if we do not take time to hold relationships (the beautiful and the not so beautiful) sacred.
In the last week of August, we will begin working on the strategic plan for HILSC. We will move into conversations about the future of HILSC: what we want HILSC to look like and how we move that vision forward.
In the month of August, HILSC will be slow to respond to requests and emails. We will be working on ourselves, our relationships, and our organization. We are grateful for your understanding, and continued participation in this collaboration.
From our humanity to yours…
The Collaborative plays a critical convening, coordinating, and communication role in the legal services community. Through our work, more immigrants are receiving low-cost, high-quality legal services for immigration issues in Houston. Our work has become even more urgent in 2019, as the policy environment in which we work becomes increasingly hostile to immigrants. We have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for immigration legal services and education & outreach efforts in Houston’s diverse immigrant communities.