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 29, 2010

November 29, 2010: A New Day for Domestic Workers!

Today, over 200,000 privately employed nannies, housekeepers, and elder caregivers in New York have gone to work so that our employers could go to theirs, just as we and those who came before us have done for centuries. We’ve dedicated our hearts and health to providing essential care for countless families and homes. Yet for so many years, we labored in the shadows, vulnerable to all forms of abuse and exploitation. But today is not like any other day. November 29, 2010 is a new day. It marks the end of invisibility and exclusion for all domestic workers, as the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights goes into effect.

The new law is justice for over 75 years of race- and gender-based discrimination. The tide is turning. After six years of organizing to pass legislation that would begin to value the critical work we do, we finally won recognition! For the first time, we are guaranteed basic rights and protections that most other workers have enjoyed for decades. As of today, we have the right to be protected against discrimination and harassment, a minimum of one day of rest per week, and those of us who are live-in have the right to overtime pay at time and a half our regular rate of pay. We also have a mandatory minimum of at least three paid days leave per year. Companions for the sick and elderly are now also covered under the Minimum Wage Act of New York.

The work of defending our dignity and respect has just begun – we have achieved minimum labor protections, and now we must work to make the Bill of Rights work for us! In partnership with the NY Department of Labor and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, we are launching a mass outreach campaign to educate workers and employers alike so that we understand our rights and responsibilities, respectively.

The struggle is, of course, not over. We must also now build upon this victory and keep organizing to secure fair not just minimum standards in the industry. Together with the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Urban Justice Center, we recently conducted a survey of over 500 workers to assess what it takes to achieve a level of security on the job for domestic workers. The results show that there is still high variation in the benefits received and in worker experiences negotiating with their employers. We found out that many workers earn less while working longer hours and therefore find it hard to meet their basic needs. Benefits like sick days, paid vacation, and personal days vary from worker to worker, and many workers report not receiving notice or severance pay when their jobs have ended. The precarious nature of this industry makes it difficult for workers to negotiate better terms and conditions. When a worker’s concern is keeping her job, it’s not easy for her to assert her rights or to bargain with her employer. To get these benefits for all workers, we need to negotiate collectively for better standards – united we are stronger! That's why we are working around the clock with our coalition partners to win inclusion of domestic workers in the New York State Labor Relations Act, which would give us the right to bargain collectively for benefits and fair standards at work.

The answers, as we know, are not just to be found in Albany. Starting in the new year, we will also have DWU representatives—fellow workers who have been trained on the new law and negotiations—available in key neighborhoods throughout the city. They will be first responders, making sure workers have the resources they need, when they need them, to defend and uphold their rights. These representatives will hold regular meetings, so that workers in the neighborhood can share information and learn more about their rights, and about working towards better standards in the industry.

A new era begins. Domestic workers in New York are setting bold precedents. Sister organizations in California are preparing to launch a Bill of Rights campaign in the Spring of 2011, and Massachusetts is poised to follow. Also, in June 2011, the International Labor Organization will be passing a convention on the rights of domestic workers, for which the NY Bill of Rights campaign and legislation have been held up as examples.

Now is the time to build real power for all workers everywhere. In our work lies the key to deep social transformation. We can help lead the way for the working people of this country to collectively reach our human potential and realize our hopes and dreams for a better future for everyone.

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November 23, 2010

DWU is Honored!

We here at DWU are thankful for the many honors we have received recently from friends and allies. The interconnectedness and support of the social justice community is what allows for all of us to continue building a movement for justice for all.

Families for Freedom Honors Domestic Workers United for Outstanding Leadership and a Commitment to Immigrant Rights.
El Centro de Derechos Laborales Honors Domestic Workers United for your pioneering and historic achievement and being an inspiration in the fight for the recognition, respect, dignity and justice for all domestic workers.

Nassau County Office of Education: "The members of the Domestic Workers United have contributed to the success and prosperity of all segments of our citizenry, and over the years, they have demonstrated a selfless commitment to the community that warrants attention and gratitude....the County of Nassau is proud to extend this commendation to you, as you are honored by the Workplace Project for your outstanding contributions and tremendous dedication and spirit."

In addition, we very recently received an honor from the Working Families Party for 2010 Organizing Victory of the Year and the 2010 Bridge Builder Award from NY and LI Civic Participation Project.

We are honored and thankful for these momentous awards!
In solidarity,

November 17, 2010

DWU 10th Anniversary Gala a HUGE success!!!

DWU's 10th Anniversary Gala last Saturday was nothing short of a huge success. With about 400 people in attendance, the room was overflowing with support, love and hope for the future of the movement.
Wonderful music, delicious food and amazing words from Arlene Holt-Baker of AFL-CIO, Jeribu Hill of Mississippi Workers' Center and our honorees were some of the highlights of the night.
We want to thank everyone who attended, donated, volunteered and had fun! Without you, none of this would be possible. DWU felt so loved and supported. Thank you for celebrating ten years of building a movement for dignity, respect and recognition for the work that makes all other work possible. The struggle continues!

November 3, 2010


Hi everyone!!

We are all SO excited for the gala, which is less than two weeks away! With our emcee and keynote speaker booked and RSVPs flying in, we really can't wait for this important and memorable event on Saturday, November 13th. Ten years is a huge milestone for DWU, and is made even more significant by the signing of the Bill of Rights and the first ever Domestic Workers Rights Day on November 29th. We know you don't want to miss the gala, so please RSVP as soon as you can.

Go to this link on Facebook for all the details of the gala. You can buy your tickets online as well!