Founded in 2000, Domestic Workers United [DWU] is an organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York, organizing for power, respect, fair labor standards and to help build a movement to end exploitation and oppression for all. DWU is a proud founding member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. DWU and its partners brought their power to bear in 2010 when the nation's first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was passed in New York.

November 7, 2008

DWU Upcoming Events

TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT AND RECOGNIZE DOMESTIC WORKERS at the front lines of the financial crisis, working to make all other work possible . . .


1. RALLY AND PRESS CONFERENCE - City Council Votes on Resolution to Support the NYS Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

Call upon New York City Councilmembers and local elected officials to take a stand in support of labor standards for New York's 200,000 domestic workers. Domestic workers are excluded from almost every major labor law; the financial crisis will hit those without a safety net the hardest. Act now to protect the workers who make all other work possible!

Thursday, November 13
11am-12:00 noon Rally and Press Conference
1:00-3:00 pm Vote inside City Hall
City Hall Steps
Enter on Broadway or Park Row
Take R/W to City Hall, the 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge or 2/3 to Park Place



Come hear testimony and recommendations from domestic workers, employers, academics and policy experts on the crisis in the domestic work industry and the solutions toward recognition, respect and basic rights for domestic workers.

Friday, November 21
250 Broadway
Assembly Hearing Room
Take R/W to City Hall, 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge or 2/3 to Park Place


3. CHILDREN'S VIGIL for the Human Rights of Domestic Workers

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. In honor of this day and the holiday season, show your solidarity with the children and families of domestic workers. This critical workforce supports 200,000 New York families as caregivers and housekeepers, yet works without a safety net, living wages or basic labor standards.

Their own children and families stand to suffer the most as the financial crisis hits. Stand up for respect and justice for domestic workers, call upon NYS legislators to act quickly, pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Protect the workers who make all other work possible.

Sunday, December 7
City Hall steps
Take R/W to City Hall, 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge or 2/3 to Park Place

August 1, 2008

Reports from National Domestic Worker Congress

Written By: Gloria Esteva, leader at POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) in San Francisco, CA. (english follows below). Photo by: Yona Paskova for the New York Times.

Mi experincia en el primer congreso de trabajadoras domesticas fue muy soprendente.porque a pesar de que para nosotras las fuimos de San Franncisco en carro atravezando todo el pais y estar canzadas,al llegar a las 2 de la madrugada a New Yor contemplar sus luces fue emocionante saber que llegabamos a tiempo. Pero tadas las luces de New York no tenian el brillo que los ojos de felicidad de nuestra companera Ai-heen al vernos llegar, asi mismo el gusto con que nos recibio en su casa esto nos ayudo mucho GRACIAS companera.
Al llegar al lugar donde empezo nuestro maravilloso congreso fue emocionante ver que ya estaban muchas companera de varias organizaciones lo mas interesante fue cuando empezaron los talleres y el intercambio de experiencias yo estuve en el taller de como usamos la cultura para organizar se menciono de que debiamos tomar en cuenta la cultura de la mayoria de nuestras miembras entre estas el ideoma con traduccion en las juntas la comida, los bailes asi mismo que no debemos permitir que nuestros hijos pierdan nuestra lengua espanol porque vimos que esto los aleja de nuestras familias tambien festejar a nuestros hijos con el dia del nino. nos une y festejar los exitos de nuestros ancestros. Lo importante que es acceder a la tecnologia proyectando nuestras culturas. Todos estuvimos de acuerdo con estos estos puntos, todo el congreso estuvo muy bien y sobre todo la eleccion de nuestro comite organizador y ademas la gran marcha que fue todo un exito sobre todo por la solidaridad de todas las organizaciones gracia a todos los que hicieron posible este congreso su trabajo rendira muchos frutos el ano que viene esperemos compatir mas exitos y lograremos mas organizaciones gracias Marisa por todo tu apoyo yo se que siempre contaremos contigo por favor siguenos escribiendo.


My experience at the first Domestic Workers Congress was very moving. Because despite the fact that we traveled cross country by car from San Francisco, arriving tired at 2 in the morning to contemplate the lights of New York, we were still excited to know we came on time. But all the lights of New York didn't have the brightness as those of the happy eyes of our compañera Ai-jen, who received us with much joy when she saw us arrive. With that same joy she received us in her home and helped us very much, THANK YOU compañera.
Upon arriving to the location of marvalous congress, it was exciting to see there were already compañeras from various organizations present. The most interesting was when we started the workshops and exchange of experiences. I participated in the workshop on how we all use culture to organize, it was mentioned that we should take culture in account, from translation, to the kind of food we have at meetings, dances, and also that we should not permit that our children lose our language of spanish because we've seen how this separates them from our family. We also talked about the need to celebrate Children's Day, the successes of continuing to celebrate our ancestors on Day of the Dead. How important it is to utilize technology to project our cultures. We all agreed with these oints, the whole congress was really good, above all the election of our coordinating committee and also the great march that was a total success. And also, the solidarity amongst the organizations. Thank you to everyone who made this Congress possible. Your work will generate many fruits in the coming year and we hope to share many more successes and accomplishments and more organizations. Thank you marisa for all of your support, i know we can count on you. Please let's keep in contact.


June 30, 2008

Bill of Rights Recap - 2008 Legislative Session

June 23rd marked the closing of the 2008 Legislative Session, and with it, it concludes our fourth year of our fight to win a New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would amend state labor law to provide much needed labor protections for the more than 200,000 women working as nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers.

At the beginning of the year, we had high hopes for our bill and were focused on moving it forward. Our first visit to Albany set the theme for the rest of the session, where the advice was: You need to bring more people to show the support this bill has. You need to demonstrate this very visually to the legislators here in Albany.

We took that advice and ran with it. Setting off to mobilize hundreds of Bill of Rights supporters, we organized two Days of Action in Albany. We reached out to our closest allies. We sought the support of new groups and individuals - in universities, church congregations, and in community presentations. Prep trainings were offered to everyone participating. And with the help of our NYU law students, we were able to schedule over 100 meetings with legislators over the course of the two days. With the motto, ‘It’s about time we have our time,’ we mobilized more than 550 supporters on April 15th and May 20th, more than doubling our numbers in previous years combined. We agitated, we educated and pushed for the passage of our Bill. And, the Domestic Slide was born!

During the session we also encountered several challenges. Some of the provisions of the Bill of Rights are commonly found in collective bargaining agreements, and legislators feel that passing a law including these provisions would equal giving domestic workers ‘special treatment’. The second key issue is one of strategy -- some legislators think that the bill should be broken up and fought for incrementally, in smaller pieces.

Our response was to make the case that this industry is unique, and therefore the traditional means of establishing labor standards and protections through collective bargaining simply doesn’t work. It has been 73 years since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRB), which essentially formed the basis of worker protections in this country. Domestic workers were excluded from these protections. This historical exclusion along with numerous others has permitted the discrimination of domestic workers and it must be reversed. Yet the solution cannot solely involve the inclusion of domestic workers in the NLRB, because in fact, this industry is uniquely structured to prevent collective bargaining as we know it. There is no one employer for workers to negotiate with. There are over 200,000 workers, and there are the same amount of employers. And the workplaces are dispersed behind unknown doors throughout the metropolitan area. Any worker who tries, under such conditions, to negotiate for a paid holiday that her employer is not willing to provide, risks losing her job. There is no collective, and no bargaining power. In an industry where workers have little to no leverage in negotiating with their employers, an approach of ‘a little at a time’ will continue to subject domestic workers to unfair and unjust working conditions. The labor of domestic workers has gone unrecognized for too long. It’s been long enough.

Still, we haven’t been unwilling to negotiate and compromise with legislators. In this session alone we made three key changes to our bill to respond to legislators’ concerns without doing away with the spirit of the bill, including the removal of the Family and Medical Leave provisions, changing the applicability of the Bill to the Metropolitan Area, and including the Healthy New York program in our health care provision for the bill.

As this legislative session closes, the Bill [A628B] is still awaiting a vote in the Labor Committee. Assemblywoman Susan John, Chair of the Labor Committee has proposed alternative legislation, which would provide both farm workers and domestic workers with overtime pay and one day of rest per week. We support this effort, and we maintain that the Bill of Rights and its core components are the ultimate solution. Assemblywoman John has made a commitment to continue working with us to move the Bill forward.

With the challenges and the lessons have also come many accomplishments. Here are some developments we’re particularly excited about:

• Strong Support from More People
This session we were successful in bringing more domestic workers and more supporters into the fight. In particular, faith communities, young people and students all played more visible roles. Labor has continued to be a key ally. We were joined this year by top labor leaders, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, whose own mother was a domestic worker for 40 years, and Roger Toussaint, President of TWU Local 100. A busload of UFCW Local 1500 members joined May 20, UAW members primed the hallways for us on April 15 and SEIU Local 32BJ continued in their support for our work. And on top of all the new support, we continue to be able to count on allies who have stood with us throughout: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jobs with Justice, Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project and all the members of the New York Domestic Workers Justice Coalition – including CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Andolan Organizing South Asian Workers, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and Unity Housecleaners of Long Island. Together we demonstrated tremendous power in our demands for justice.

• Legislative sponsorship
Early this session, we received a great honor – we were presented with an award by the Black and Latino Legislators Association during Caucus weekend in mid-February. This was the beginning of a groundswell of support from legislators, following 2 high visibility days of action, led by members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, and followed by members of the Labor Committee and throughout the legislature. We closed the legislative session with 60 co-sponsors in the Assembly. And, Senator Maltese signed on as our Senate sponsor.

• Active Solidarity with Farm Workers
On March 4, domestic workers and farm workers joined together with the Labor-Religion Coalition for their annual 40-hour fast, this year highlighting immigrant worker rights. From that day forward, domestic workers and farm workers worked together closely, supporting one another’s efforts to win respect and reverse the legacy of injustice that has been our fate since the 1930’s. On May 20, the two groups of workers rallied jointly, bringing together workers and supporters from around the state in a call to action. These efforts have resulted in the passage of a measure to provide overtime pay and a day of rest to both farm workers and domestic workers in the Labor Committee. The power of this solidarity will continue to build as we prepare for the next legislative session.

• Visibility in the Media
At the end of this session, an editorial in the Sunday New York Times appeared in support of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The following day, a long story appeared in the Metro Section of the NY Times, detailing the stories of domestic workers around the country who participated in the first National Domestic Workers Congress, including a photo of a march where participants of the Congress and over 300 supporters marched from City Hall together for the Bill of Rights.

Next steps
The end of the legislative session does not mean our work for the year has ended. Now is the time for the groundwork to take place, the education, the basebuilding, the leadership development, the reflection, assessment and strategy development. We hope that you will take the time and breathing room to think about new communities and constituencies to mobilize in this historic movement for justice in our state. Collect postcards and letters of endorsement and support for the Bill of Rights, schedule discussions and presentations about domestic work in a school, church or community near you. Write an op ed in your local newspaper about what the Bill of Rights means to you. Schedule an in district meeting with your legislator about the Bill of Rights. Prepare to join DWU in the summer and fall for actions in support of workers who have been abused by their employers. And get ready for the fight next session, when we bring our moral message for justice and respect, and our collective power to bear in a sustained campaign of action, education and more action until we see a victory! Are you with us? We know you are!

There are too many people to thank for all that we have accomplished this year, but we would like to acknowledge a few – Richard Winsten, Jacqueline Williams, and Julie Ruttan of Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein, Ed Ott, NYC Central Labor Council, Susan Borenstein of the AFL-CIO, Jeannine Johnson and Assemblyman Keith Wright, Jobs with Justice, Brooklyn Congregations United, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, NYU Immigrant Rights Law Clinic, Center for Constitutional Rights, Urban Justice Center, Third World Newsreel, all those who participated in the Albany Days of Action, the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign, and many more. . .

June 18, 2008

the Nanny Diaries

Quite recently while walking down the street I saw an ad on a pole which read "Dog Walker for hire, $12 for half and $20 for a hour". When i saw this i had a terrible feeling within my gut to see that employers do not want to pay their Domestic worker a livable wage for taking care of their prized possession (namely their children) but they are willing to pay $20 a hour to have their dog walked. Thinking about this for a moment then clearly made me realise what or who they consider their prized possession. Here in a Global City like New York domestic Workers are treated less than human beings yet they continue to do the work that make all other work possible allowing their employers to go to work and have leisure time. Some domestic workers earn as little as $250 per week, some cant even afford to pay their or afford the necessity of a telephone. With no laws to protect us, no right to collective bargaining and no right to organize we are left at the whim of these employers. It is about time that we be given respect and recognition for the work we do , as a former proud nanny (who contributed a lot into educating and building a solid foundation for those in my care) i can identify some of the abuse and exploitation workers faced within this industry. There is a solution to these problems, this solution is The Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights it is about time this bill be pass to reverse the history of injustice that Domestic workers face, it is about respect, recognity and dignity ,it is about fair labour standards and most of all its about HUMANITY.

the Nanny Diaries

While working as a nanny, one day I was not feeling well so I went to the doctor. He told me my Blood Pressure was HIGH and recommended I rest for one(1) week. When I returned home I called my employer and told her that the Doctor gave me a week off from work because I was not feeling well and my pressure was high and Oh Boy, she hit the roof she said why did he give you a week off, when you are sick you do not want a week off you only need a day, what am I going to do with these children. I told her I have a sick paper from the Doctor and she said she does not want it she just need me to come to work, I told her I would not be out that and she said well I am not paying you ,I took the week and rested and when I returned I was not paid for the week. (Talk about Injustice,)

June 13, 2008

Bill of Rights Gains Support in State Assembly

Here's the latest count of New York State Assembly co/multi-sponsors of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights:

Bill Sponsor:
Keith L.T. Wright

Barbara M. Clark
Aurelia Greene
José R. Peralta
William Colton
Ruben Diaz, Jr.
Herman D. Ferrell, Jr.
Ivan C. Lafayette
John J. McEneny
N. Nick Perry
Annette Robinson
Darryl C. Towns
Linda B. Rosenthal
Felix Ortiz
Brian P. Kavanagh
Ellen Young
Nettle Mayersohn
J. Gary Pretlow
Hakeem Jeffries
Karim Camara
Mike Spano
Adam Clayton Powell, IV
Jeffrion Aubry
Phil Ramos
Richard Brodsky
Alan Maisel
Amy Paulin
Daniel O'Donnell

Peter Abbate, Jr.
Michael Benjamin
William F. Boyland, Jr.
James F. Brennan
Adriano Espalliat
Richard N. Gottfried
Earlene Hooper
Rhoda Jacobs
Micah Z. Kellner
Charles D. Lavine
Joseph R. Lentol
Margaret M. Markey
Joan L. Millman
Audrey I. Pheffer
Bob Reilly
Naomi Rivera
Peter Rivera
William Scarborough
Michele Titus
Harvey Weisenberg
Carl E. Heastie
Anthony Seminerio
Ellen Jaffee
Marc S. Alessi
Vivian E. Cook
Clifford W. Crouch
Michael Cusick
Luis Diaz
Crystal D. Peoples

June 9, 2008

Solidarity Message

Dear friends,

We on behalf of National Home & Domestic Women Workers Union express our deep solidarity with you.It is good news for us you hold your national congress in recent past.We came to know from IRENE of Holland.If we heard before we can send solidarity messes to your congress. We also express our heartfelt thanks to your and your new leaders.We also hope our relationship will be more closer in near future.

Please keep in touch.

In solidarity

Nahar Akter

General secretary

June 3, 2008

Message from Domestic Workers Union, Bangalore India




June 2, 2008

Domestic Workers are comin to NYC!

In just a few days domestic workers from Boston, San Francisco, Houston, San Antonio, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington D.C. will be joining domestic workers in New York to convene the National Domestic Worker Congress. We're excited to see our compañeras again, looking to build from the unity that was sparked at the US Social Forum last summer. And this time, there will be new groups joining in.

New York as our meeting spot is no random choice. New York is the site of one of the strongest campaigns on the ground fighting for rights, respect and reparations for domestic workers. As this year's state legislative session comes to a close, we've been able to mobilize hundreds of people to agitate and push for the passage of the Bill of Rights. Our national allies are here to register there support and to begin to work towards place domestic workers on the national agenda for workers' rights.

The Congress will involved planning meetings, internal exchanges and joint political education sessions between domestic workers organizations. There will also be public conference, the detailed schedule is:

June 6th - Barnard College, 3009 Broadway at 117th street
10:30 AM Panel: Domestic Worker Organizing in the U.S.
Representatives from Alliance Member groups will talk about what's happening in the local cities and share innovations in campaign or programmatic work.

12:30 PM Lunch

1:30 PM Panel: Lessons in National Organizing
This panel will feature representatives from national groups: Jobs with Justice, Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Right to the City Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice. They will share lessons building national alliances and waging national campaigns.

3:30 PM Breakout Discussions
There will be three break out groups:
- On Legal Advocacy as a way to support Domestic Worker organizing
- On Ally Groups and having active solidarity with Domestic Workers
- For Domestic Workers, how do we connect with critical issues of our time

7:00 PM Fundraiser Party for National Domestic Worker Alliance
at Bar 13, VIP Entrance - 121 University Place and 13th street, 3rd Floor
N/Q/R/Q/4/5/6 to Union Square

Saturday, June 7th @ 11AM
March for Rights, Respect and Reparations for Domestic Workers
Domestic Workers March for Rights, Respect and Dignity
11 AM - Meet at City Hall Park, On Broadway between Barclay and Chambers. Take the N/R to City Hall or 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge.

Message from Indonesian Migrant Workers Union

Dear Freinds,

We are just heard from friends, that domestic workers in America will assembled in New York, this month. We area Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, a union for Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong, would like to say congratulation to domestic workers who will have a meeting in New York. Were in Asia already build a regional alliance for domestic workers in Asia, called Asian Domestic Workers Alliance, we've just launched on 1 May 2008. The members are grass root domestic workers union and organizations.


In Solidarity,
Chairperson of IMWU

May 15, 2008

Why I'm Going to Albany

Hi my name is Deloris Wright I am a nanny, and a member of Domestic Workers United. May 20 is our Day of Action in Albany. This is our second mobilization this legislative session. We are fighting very hard to get our Bill of Rights pass this year. Personally for me I think we are sending a strong message to the Legislators with our presence, we need to let them know that enough is enough. We are not going to stop until we get this Bill passed and until we are recognized as real workers. We are two hundred thousand strong fighting for dignity and respect.We have been excluded from the labor law since slavery .We are tired of being on the back burner we need to be valued and treated with respect.

May 13, 2008

My mother's hands: the Domestic Worker's Union

May 11, 2008 - 10:51am
By Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou

Dear God:

Like all children, I held my mother's hand as sign of assurance against a fall; a touch of loving; a way of being; the last time I saw her I was flying in from a rally of protest with a brief layover in her city. With the fervor of a prodigal son or better yet a prince returned, she made a fuss about me. (I am the baby you know.) We embraced; she sat me down and gave me that stern look and as always told me to be careful and not to make the president too mad. "Yes, ma'am", I obliged. We made chit chat about my siblings-some blue, all black.

And so were her hands. I rubbed them-tortured with calluses. Her knees ached and soul tired of scrubbing rich white folk floors. My mother is a "domestic" - like her mother and her mother before. I saw my mothers' hands again last night. Though not all black, they were blue. Reminding me from whence I came, they danced and sang calypso; testified before you, elected officials, and labor leaders.

I call on you now to protect them in the dark corners of their labor houses. May the children they serve hold their hands and feel their souls.

I talked to mother this morning and said it is OK to make the president really mad, for her. (Did I mention that I am the baby?)

Lillian's son,

Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou
p.s. please help the DWU pass the Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights

May 7, 2008

A Mother's Day for Justice

On May 11th we celebrate a holiday, one of those holidays that shouldn't be recognized for one day, but everyday. It's Mother's Day. And on this day - we remember those who birthed us, those who raised and nurtured us. This critical work, historically done by women, has shaped generation after generation. It is work that in some ways is the most basic, the most difficult, the most rewarding. It continues to be invisible and unrecognized.

Families, children, and mothers come in many shapes, colors and sizes. For some of us, we have several 'mothers' in our lives. Those people who have made us who we are. Nannies often time do this critical work - part educator, part psychologist, part doctor - part many things, but always done with a full helping of love. Today is a day to honor them too. Yet how is it that only one day is set aside to recognize this work of raising children, our future? Where would we be without this work? And why is it sufficient to offer our mother's some flowers, maybe some chocolates for all their work?

Let this be a Mother's Day of Justice. We want flowers and chocolates, we want a full helping of love. But more than that we want a full helping of justice. By seeking justice, we can have Mother's Day everyday - we demonstrate our love through the fight for recognition, respect, dignity. On this day, give homage to the people in your lives who have nurtured you to become the person you are. And also, stand with domestic workers, who have and continue to do this work, this dignified work, this labor of love.

April 11, 2008

This is not a test...

Some of you may have received our new update, and, of course wouldn't be a first time thing without a little bit of a mistake! Just so you know..it was not a test, but the real thing ;) . But, if you have suggestions or ideas on how to make it better, by all means let us know!

Here at DWU we are hard at work putting the finishing touches on what we hope will be one more step towards making history for domestic workers. We're calling to confirm with the over 200 people who have committed to an early rise up on Tuesday morning. The appointments are set, we're getting those chant sheets ready and our awaiting the shipment of some snazzy new t-shirts we'll all wear in Albany.

The stage is set. On Tuesday we'll arrive in Albany, with our biggest band of supporters to date. We are slated to sit down and speak to 40 legislators. The Bill of Rights [#A628B and S5235] has been introduced in both the Senate and the Assembly and is awaiting to be heard in the Labor Committee in both houses. Our key task that day will be to confirm 'yes' votes from enough legislators to ensure that the Bill of Rights passes through the Labor Committee with flying colors and to continue to build momentum and support for our cause.

Now, we all know Albany's been busy lately. Know that maybe the recent scandals have sent shock waves in the capital. We know that every year the budget is a big fight. But the thing is - we think this has gone on long enough. Domestic workers have been waiting for justice for too long. Our work has never been recognized, never been given its due respect. We ask the legislators in Albany - how much longer? How many more cases of abuse? We've been saying, Its About Time we Have OUR Time. We are urging that legislators take action and pass the Bill of Rights.

We are ready for a day in Albany. And we thank you for all your support and for standing with us, because we know we can't do it alone.

p.s. Make sure and brush up on your dancing this weekend. On Tuesday, we'll be unveiling our new 'Domestic Slide' - get ready!

April 7, 2008

Seder in the Street

-By Carla
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice celebrated Seder at Seward Park. The event combined various aspects of Jewish seder traditions with domestic workers and housing issues.
Domestic Workers United was invited to make a presentation and I was given the opportunity to speak. I spoke about conditions in the domestic work industry and highlighted our excellent and dedicated service as domestic workers. I stressed that while employers appreciated the care we provided for their families, they pay many of us what they consider as industry standards but what is often insufficient. I also explained the struggles for domestic workers and their families surviving on what we are paid. I explained that while we accept appreciation from our employers by words, what we really needed was appreciation by action. I further stressed that domestic work is a priceless job and a valuable service that we provide to our employers. Our employers cannot put a cost on loving and caring for their families. As domestic workers we give a lot and receive very little. I challenge employers to go against current industry standards and support the domestic worker bill of rights. After my speech, three employers at the Sedar said they will support our bill of rights.

Members from Jews for Racial and Ecomomic Justice did a speech on the ten plagues that strickened Egypt and they did a symbolic modern plagues that i found to be very touching. Some of these modern day plagues were intolerance, racisim, gentrification and greed. They said the importance of getting rid of these plagues from our society and building a better society. The whole event was interesting an meaningful and even though it was a cold day, I was glad I attended.

April 6, 2008

Who's Coming to Albany?

9 days to go...

The buzz is official - on the 15th of April hundreds of people will converge on the state capital in Albany, New York to demand the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. And, we know 6 am is awful early, that its a full day commitment - yet more than 200 people have signed up to get on the bus, because Its About Time Domestic Workers Get Some Justice!

Shout outs to our allies who have made the commitment to join us on April 15th:
Jew for Economic and Racial Justice
Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees
UNITY Housecleaners
TWU Local 100
Las Mujeres de Santa Maria
Brooklyn Congregations United
John Murphy Labor Center
Regeneración Collective
Cornell University
Social Justice Leadership
NYU Immigrant Law Clinic
Jobs with Justice
Students for a Democratic Society
CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
Center for Constitutional Rights
Students from: Fordham University
Urban Justice Center
New York Immigration Coalition
Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project
Global Action Project
Socialist Party USA

plus individual activists! more organizations to come! will you be there on april 15th? if interested, please email: domesticworkersunited@gmail.com

April 2, 2008

I'm Gettin' on the Bus: Words from Domestic Workers Headin' to Albany

Its important that I get on the bus to let them know that domestic workers have a voice and we want to be heard. Its about time we have our time.
- Allison

I'm going because I think its time the legislators and the bosses in Albany recognize domestic workers as workers. We are too often an invisible workforce. Its about time we get what we rightly deserve and for us that's having our Bill of Rights. For me the Bill of Rights means I don’t have to feel afraid to be fired by my employer. I would feel more protected with the Bill of Rights. Because they can no longer just hire and fire me as they please.
- Alicia

I'm getting on the bus because its about time that the domestic workers be given the respect, recognition and dignity that we deserve. After having been enslaved and continued to be enslaved ever since those days of slavery. We are not looking for special treatment what we seek is reparation for the injustices that have been brought upon workers in this industry.
- Joyce

I am frustrated with the way undocumented workers are being treated. You’re not being cared for, not treated like a human being. Like they don’t recognize you. Its like if you're undocumented they’re not obligated to give you certain things. Maybe they think - How much can you say? What right do you have? Vacation without pay, and if your sick you’re not compensated for that day that your out. I am going to Albany to hear what our leaders might have in place for us to make our workforce more compfortable and reassured. I would say to them – reassure us that we have a right, regardless of documentation, we have the right to ask for justice. They shouldn't act against us just because we’re asking for justice.
- Dianne

Legislators should know that if it was anytime in their life that they could make history its now. To correct all the wrongs that has been done since the times of slavery up until now. Because today, domestic workers are still working in the shadows of slavery. So when they pass our Bill of Rights this is the best way they could ever ever make history.
Sista with a Vision

Shalom Bayit: Justice for Domestic Workers

May 31, 2006, submitted by JFREJ member

Last Tuesday (May 23rd), I had the opportunity to travel to Albany with about 80 member of Domestic Workers United (DWU) and 17 other members of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ). DWU is a city-wide coalition of domestic workers and organizations of domestic workers. The JFREJ presence on the trip was part of our ‘Shalom Bayit: Justice for Domestic Workers’ campaign. JFREJers attended this trip as allies to DWU, to support them in lobbying NY state legislators to back their Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.

Domestic workers’ (nannies, housekeepers, and elderly care providers) experiences range from wonderful to abusive and everything in between, a problem stemming from the fact that domestic workers are excluded from most labor laws in the US (you can see a summary of these laws in the report cited below). As a result, domestic workers are often at the whim of their employers. 26% of domestic workers earn wages below the poverty line. 67% reported not receiving proper compensation for overtime worked. About 1/3 reported some type of abuse in their work environment. A staggering 90% do not have health insurance. (all of these facts are from DWU’s recently published report on domestic workers in the NY area).

DWU’s proposed Bill of Rights includes a living wage of $14/hour ($16 if the employer does not provide health insurance), paid sick and vacation days, overtime pay, advance notice of termination, and severance pay – among other things – that many of us expect and take for granted from our own employers. It is currently being moved through different committees of the New York State senate. On Tuesday, we encouraged legislators to push the bill to a vote on the senate floor.

Tuesday’s lobby day arrived on the heels of the aforementioned publication of DWU’s report “Home is Where the Work is: Inside New York’s Domestic Worker Industry,” summarizing several years of research, which included over 500 interviews with domestic workers in the NY area. There are over 200,000 domestic workers in the tri-state area, the overwhelming majority of whom are women of color. The questions stemming from this issue are numerous: how does the way domestic workers are treated affect the way our culture values domestic work itself? Do we still fail to view what is traditionally “women’s work” as actual work? How can we continue failing to recognize the importance of people who care for our most intimate and precious possessions – our children, our parents, and our homes?

These questions are the fuel for JFREJ’s Shalom Bayit campaign. The campaign seeks to “alter power relations between domestic workers and employers within NYC synagogue communities” (from the JFREJ website). We do this by encouraging dialogue between employers within communities, the long-term goal of which is to improve the working environment for both employer and employee. One of the problems is that because domestic work is not valued as real work, oftentimes employers of domestic workers fail to see themselves as employers. SB is also working on building resources for employers on a variety of topics, ranging from how to pay one’s domestic worker on the books to how to purchase health insurance. We encourage rabbis, including those who are members of the JFREJ Rabbinical Council, to give sermons on this topic. We held a pre-Passover event at which several rabbis taught texts on labor issues in Jewish tradition and two members of DWU spoke about their experiences as domestic workers. We also distributed our SB haggadah supplement, which contains five different readings for the Passover seder dealing directly with domestic work, each tied to a different part of the seder. (Upcoming events are listed here).

Tuesday was an incredibly uplifting day for me, for a number of reasons. The women of DWU are truly remarkable and they are a joy to be around. There’s an underlying tone in so many progressive organizations and circles that mainstream politics are simply “not for us.” Our game is to work on the grassroots level, and even attempting to enter the realm of mainstream politics, beyond demonstrating at the RNC, is simply not worth our time. On Tuesday, I learned that one can only have such an attitude as I have just described with a certain degree of economic and/or racial privilege – the privilege of knowing that regardless of what happens in mainstream politics, one’s life will more or less stay the same. For the women of DWU, pushing this legislation is not simply a matter of making a lot of noise in Albany, it’s about their lives. It’s about dignity and respect, gained through a bill that guarantees them rights that so many of us take for granted. It’s with this passion that they marched into the offices of the most white legislators in Albany and told their stories, proudly, fiercely, and emotionally.

Lobby day was one step among many, and I also believe that our organizing in synagogue communities can have a tremendous political impact. If employers across New York city concerned themselves with being better employers and treating their employees the way that they expect to be treated in their own workplaces, the support for this legislation would be enormous. The discussion is just getting started.

April 1, 2008

Get Ready for Albany

April 15th and May 20th are important days..

In order to have the impact we want to have, we should be prepared! Trainings are for anyone who's interested in joining DWU on April 15th and/or May 20th for our trip to Albany to fight for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. If you have never done a day or event like this before, these trainings will help you prepare and know what to expect in advance. We encourage everyone to attend. Refreshments will be served.

Please call our office at 718.220.7391 x23 to RSVP so we know how much to prepare..

Saturday April 5th
General Legislative Visit Training 12:30 - 2:30
NYU Law School - Furman Hall
245 Sullivan Street, between West 3rd and Washington Square South
Directions: Take the A/C/E/F/D/B/V to West 4th street

Thursday April 10th
General Legislative Visit Training 7 - 9 PM
Park Slope Jewish Center
1320 8th Ave @ 14th st.

Sunday April 13th
General Legislative Visit Training 2:00 - 4:00
NYU Law School - Furman Hall
245 Sullivan Street, between West 3rd and Washington Square South

March 12, 2008

Fight for the Bill of Rights in Albany, April 15th & May 20th

TWO Albany Days of Action for


for Domestic Workers

Take a Stand for a Domestic Workers BILL OF RIGHTS in New York


Sign up for 1 or both days, Leaving 6:00 am, returning 7:30 pm the same day

Meet in front of the Barnes and Noble on the north side of Union Square Park at 6:00 am

Take the 4/5/6/N/R/W/Q to Union Square in Manhattan

Transportation by bus and food provided, donations welcome!

Call to reserve your seats today! We need reservations as soon as possible to book buses. If your organization would like to co-sponsor, or for more information contact domesticworkersunited@gmail.com or (718) 220-7391 x 11.

Everyday, 200,000 domestic workers (nannies, elderly companions, housekeepers) in New York make it possible for their employers to go to work; most are employed without a living wage, healthcare, and basic labor protections. A long-standing history of exclusion from basic labor laws, the devaluing of women’s work and women of color workers, along with the physical isolation in their employers’ homes creates vulnerability to abuse.

Domestic workers in New York are organizing for power, respect and a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, to recognize the workforce and establish basic labor standards including an annual cost of living wage increase, notice of termination and severance pay, paid sick days, holidays and vacation, and health care . This legislative session, we're making a big push to be heard and change the course of history for this critical workforce. Join us and take a stand in support of justice, recognition and respect for all workers.

You can download a DAY OF ACTION ORGANIZING TOOLKIT in our MEDIA section at www.domesticworkersunited.org