Work Life Oaxaca

Since Eric Chavez started his new position as coordinator of educational services at the recently opened Museo Textil de Oaxaca, he has been describing the things he is doing to get started. He is writing lesson plans to teach beginning weaving techniques to young students in elementary school, and has made several cardboard looms for demonstration and practice. I have come to discover that the most astounding thing about this new job are the work hours, which Eric says is standard practice in Oaxaca. People work a 6-day week! I think we would have a rebellion here. His hours at the museum are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with two hours off for lunch between 3 and 5 p.m., then back again for a 7 hour day on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is the same for all of Eric’s working friends, including Elsa Sanchez Diaz, who just got a job at a bank/money exchange house. Starting jobs for college graduates range from 7,000 to 10,000 pesos a month. Convert this to dollars and we’re talking about $700-1,000 USD. (Today, the pesos was 10.3 to the $1.) Take it a bit further. This is a 47-hour work week, times four weeks a month, equals 188 hours a month, divided by, let’s say, the $1,000 per month salary. That’s $5.32 per hour tops! I’m thinking, if I were their parents I would be saying, For this I sent them to college? I hear tell that wage laborers will earn about $4-8 dollars per day in Mexico, and it is easy to understand why so many want to immigrate to the U.S. Of course, this is Eric’s first salaried job since graduating from college, tourism has not yet made a full come back to Oaxaca, the family is not selling as many rugs as usual, and this is an opportunity to earn a steady income, help the family, and be part of a fantastic museum in a great city.

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