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.

December 15, 2011

White House and Department of Labor Call for Fair Labor Standards for Home Care Workers

Today is an historic day, because all of the organizing among workers and allies to bring dignity and respect to care work has paid off. The White House and the Department of Labor have announced proposed rules to extend overtime pay and minimum wage protections to home care workers. Long excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1974, home care workers may finally get the rights that they deserve for the important work they do. The Department of Labor will now be taking comments on the proposed regulatory changes for 60 days. Individuals and families who will benefit from these changes must come forward and tell their stories. We call on all domestic workers, consumers, and anyone who has a loved one who needs in home care to join us in urging the Department of Labor to narrow the companionship exemption.
  • CLICK HERE to learn more about the proposed rules.
  • CLICK HERE to take action through the Caring Across Generations campaign, led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and partners.
  • WATCH a moving tribute to Evelyn Coke, a home care worker who took her case all the way to the Supreme Court.
  • And the Award Goes to...Today's Help!

    DWU Member Meches Rosales celebrates the nominations of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for their starring roles in the film The Help.

    Today, I join thousands of domestic workers, children and parents in congratulating actresses Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for their Golden Globe and SAG nominations. I hope these talented women understand the powerful impact their creative work is having on domestic workers across the nation and the families who employ us.

    I am a proud domestic worker, originally from Guatemala. In my seven years as a nanny, and even before then in my home country, I have witnessed and experienced for myself the harsh treatment and exploitation that domestic workers often endure. We are isolated, mostly working by ourselves behind closed doors. We are the invisible ones who make it possible for our employers to go to work and enjoy leisure time. We care for the most important elements of our employers’ lives.

    To read more, CLICK HERE and visit the Ms. Foundation Igniting Change Blog.

    TAKE ACTION today for domestic workers:
  • LIKE the #BeTheHelp campaign page on Facebook.
  • CLICK HERE and check out videos of our members' stories.
  • Share your own story at #helpstories.
  • Tweet #iPledge to #BeTheHelp needed to create respect, recognition, and protection for @DomesticWorkers. Join me? http://domesticworkers.org/#bethehelp

    Help us drive a national conversation about the film and the issues that it raises about the value of care work and the legacy of domestic workers' struggles. Together we can create respect and ensure protections for domestic workers across the nation, especially our right right to work in a safe and dignified workplace.
  • Up with the 99%

    Leah Obias of the Damayan Migrant Workers Association leads convention participants in an inspiring energizer. "Up with the 99%! Down with the 1%!" Stretching our bodies, minds and spirits, we got the fuel we needed to nourish and grow our movement for dignity and respect.

    Building Power in the 21st Century

    Joining 200 domestic workers were long-time allies in the struggle for justice, Ed Ott of CUNY Murphy Institute and formerly with the NY Central Labor Council, Jodeen Olguin-Tyler of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Nellini Stamp of the Working Families Party and Occupy Wall Street, and Dorian Warren of Columbia University. They joined us on a panel to discuss the opportunities we have before us to really build power for domestic workers and all people. From the victory of the nation's first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to the uprisings at Zuccotti Park and around the world, the possibility for change is more palpable than ever before. The leadership of domestic workers - primarily immigrant women of color - is a critical part of building an economy and a society that value people over profits and that recognize our interdependence.

    On Saturday, December 3, 2011, domestic workers gathered to take another step in the struggle for justice - to build up our networks, drawing on the dispersed nature of our industry as a source of strength. Workers who attended the convention assembled at tables according to the neighborhoods where they worked, to discuss the impact of the Bill of Rights, the reality of today's working conditions after the introduction and passage of our legislation, and to innovate ways to raise industry standards.

    Signing up for job training programs, political education courses, organizing skills building trainings, and to run local meetings throughout the city, more workers are joining the ranks for dignity and respect for all. It's a new day, there's a new standard.

    December 3, 2011

    Over 200 Domestic Workers Unite for Change

    Nanny and Domestic Workers United organizer, Allison Julien, coordinates behind the scenes at A New Day, A New Standard / Domestic Workers Convention. Today, over 100 domestic workers from around the northeast gathered in New York City to plan their 2012 agenda and the next phase of the domestic worker justice movement.

    Says Allison, "For the first time in seven years, after the first convention in NYC, it is exciting to be in a room with so many domestic workers planning for the new phase of this industry. In 2012, I want to see more domestic workers involved in DWU. The more workers who join this organization, the more we build a stronger movement for all excluded workers!"

    Nanny describes penniless Christmas due to unpaid wages at Domestic Workers Convention

    Deyanira Barrow describes immigrating to the US in 1988, "I came very young with many dreams, wanting to know new cultures...a new world." A few weeks after being placed in live-in nanny position in Los Angeles, her employer stopped paying her wages claiming bankruptcy. Leaving empty handed, she ended up in the hospital for a stress related condition. She spent "a Christmas without a penny in my purse, with only the care of my friends."

    A New Day, A New Standard/ New York Domestic Workers Convention

    Members of Las Mujeres de Santa Maria from Staten Island strategize at the Domestic Worker Convention earlier today as daughter helps her mom sign the JOIN THE MOVEMENT PLEDGE for National Domestic Workers Alliance (image below).

    November 29, 2011

    Domestic Workers and the Occupy Movement

    Domestic workers are part of the 99%. We know all too well the disparities and economic injustices caused by Wall Street’s greed and exploitation. We work in the homes of Wall Street bankers and America’s 1%, taking care of their families and most prized possessions. As our communities are rising up through the Occupy/De-Colonize movement demanding justice and direct democracy, we are standing hand-in-hand with everyone across the country and around the world during this important time of resistance. We have an opportunity to build a new economy, one that values people over profit and functions on the principle that our well-being is interconnected. Dignity and respect for all. CLICK HERE to check out the statement by local NY affiliates of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

    November 28, 2011

    DWU Expands Partnerships and Builds on Bill of Rights Victory with Caring Across Generations National Campaign Launch

    As we neared the finish line of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights campaign in NY, we knew as a national movement that our journey was just beginning. The struggle would need to continue to truly transform the industry in which over 2.5 million domestic workers labor everyday across the country. A bold vision would be needed to lift up the value of care in our society: a vision that would engage greater numbers of people, rooted in an understanding that we all have a stake. We are all facing similar changes, as more and more families struggle with providing long-term quality care for loved ones, and as more and more workers are pulled in to provide that vital care.

    On July 12, 2012, a delegation of 20 DWU members traveled to the nation’s capital for the historic launch of the Caring Across Generations campaign, led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Jobs with Justice and many other partners. CAG offers a comprehensive solution for jobs creation, training, pathway to citizenship, fair labor standards, support for individual families to afford quality care, and an opportunity to build a movement that can uplift the soul of this nation. DWU leader Marlene Champion shared her powerful story at the first Care Congress, about her experience working as an elder caregiver and how important she knows her job to be. While in DC, DWU members also rallied beside hundreds of senior groups, disability rights groups, and various community organizations before the Senate to protect Medicaid and to demand a principled approach to the national deficit. DWU is playing an important role in the local organizing in NY to bring home this national campaign through the launch of a Care Council in partnership with ALIGN and Jewish Funds for Justice & Progressive Jewish Alliance. Read more about the Caring Across Generations campaign and Marlene’s story at http://www.caringacrossgenerations.org.

    DWU Organizes NY Domestic Worker Convention: One Year after the Bill of Rights

    On December 3rd, DWU is hosting the 2nd NYC Domestic Workers Convention. The convention will gather hundreds of domestic workers one year after the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to set next steps in our struggle for respect and recognition. Domestic workers will come together to network, discuss the impact of the Bill of Rights and current political and economic climate, share stories and testimony about the current work conditions on the ground, and join forces to build innovative strategies for expanding the rights and protections granted to domestic workers. The convention will also provide Know Your Rights education, training on negotiating with employers, and access to free legal support and consultation from our various partners. Former NY Governor David Paterson who signed the Bill of Rights into law in 2010 will deliver the keynote speech, pledging his ongoing support for organizing among domestic workers.

    DWU Launches Domestic Worker Legal Clinic with the Urban Justice Center

    In partnership with the Urban Justice Center, DWU launched a legal clinic to expand our capacity to win justice for domestic workers whose rights, including those enshrined in provisions of the newly-enacted Bill of Rights, have been violated. To date, we have supported over 60 workers to either file claims with the NY Department of Labor or negotiate directly with employers to recuperate back-wages. The legal clinic has allowed us greater capacity to support more workers to bring forward claims that help us ensure that the DoL can effectively enforce the law. Finally, the legal clinic is serving as a way for us to continue to document the ongoing vulnerabilities workers face.

    DWU & JFREJ Launch the Domestic Justice Dialogue Project

    Our partnership with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) has been one of the most hopeful and transformative strategies in our work for domestic worker justice. Currently, we are embarking on a new joint venture called the Domestic Justice Dialogue Project. The project brings together employers and domestic workers to dialogue about their respective experiences in the industry, build relationships and trust across differences, and work together to strengthen the movement for respect, dignity, and fair labor standards. The project has already launched conversations in at least two congregations in Brooklyn, and begun work on a community banner project with Groundswell Community Mural Project that will display information about the NY Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and lift up the value of care work in and around Park Slope, Brooklyn.

    DWU Implements a Multi-Media Know Your Rights Campaign

    In January, we launched a Know Your Rights campaign to educate domestic workers about their rights under the newly passed Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. In addition to doing Know Your Rights outreach and education in the parks and on the streets of NYC, DWU has launched a new multi-media Know Your Rights website. The website features extensive resources for domestic workers as well as employers, with thanks to the National Employment Law Project and the Urban Justice Center. DWU also partnered with People’s Production House to develop an interactive Frequently Asked Questions component to the website. Through audio clips and comic book style illustrations, the program outlines answers to some of domestic workers’ most common concerns. The audio clips were recorded by DWU members in English and in Spanish and are also accessible through a telephone hotline. The recordings are designed to sound like a call-in talk show to provide a fun and engaging way of disseminating information that will be invaluable toward standard setting in the domestic work industry. You can check out the new Domestic Workers Bill of Rights website at http://www.knowyourrightsny.org.

    DWU Launches Mass Organizing Campaign with Innovative Ambassador Program

    Since the passage of the NY State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, DWU has been hard at work to expand our capacity to organize more workers and build greater power. This spring, we launched our Ambassadors Program – an innovative strategy to organize workers on their “shop floor”, in the neighborhoods where they live and work. The Ambassadors serve as the primary contacts for domestic workers in their respective neighborhoods, and are equipped to provide them with information, report abuses, and lay the groundwork for collective standard setting with area employers. During the pilot period, DWU successfully trained over 20 DWU member leaders as Ambassadors who have since been based in four key areas of NYC: Tribeca, Upper West Side, and the Upper East Side in Manhattan as well as Park Slope, Brooklyn. Ambassadors are actively organizing domestic workers in these neighborhoods by providing a consistent presence and conducting frequent Know Your Rights outreach. To date, our membership increased by 1,500, bringing us to 6,500 strong. We will be expanding the program over the next year to provide for domestic workers what shop stewards have historically done for trade union members. For more information about DWU’s Ambassador program. CLICK HERE to watch a short video made for the International Labor Organization's proceedings in June 2011 before adopting the first-ever Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, setting global standards for the domestic work industry around the world.

    November 15, 2011

    We need Interpreters & Equipment for Domestic Workers NY Convention

    Seeking Experienced Volunteer Interpreters
    We are checking in with you if you know folks who have experience doing simultaneous interpreting e.g. familiarity with equipment and have an understanding of supporting multilingual space. We are seeking 25 onsite volunteer interpreters and mostly Spanish and English for the weekend of December 2-December 5th, 2011 for Domestic Workers United. We plan to bring together approximately 300 domestic workers to the following 2 events: “A New Day, A New Standard/ New York Domestic Workers Convention” and "Domestic Workers United General Membership Assembly”. For more information about these events and our organization please visit our website, http://domesticworkersunited.org/shownews/98.

    We are requesting that all volunteer interpreters attend an orientation on Tuesday November 29th from 6:30pm-8:30pm.

    To volunteer please contact Sam Schoer at sam@domesticworkersunited.org or at 212-481-5747
    Borrowing Equipment
    We are looking to borrow interpreting equipment from ally organization. We need a total of 300 sets so please let me know if we can borrow all or a portion of your equipment for the weekend of December 2-December 5th, 2011 for Domestic Workers United. We plan to bring together approximately 300 domestic workers to the following 2 events: “A New Day, A New Standard/ New York Domestic Workers Convention” and "Domestic Workers United General Membership Assembly”. For more information about these events and our organization please visit our website, http://domesticworkersunited.org/shownews/98.

    We will pick up and drop off equipment in a timely manner. If your equipment is not available and you know of other groups who have equipment please send me their information or forward our request. Please contact me if you have any questions at tplservices@yahoo.com or at 917-325-4696.

    A New Day, A New Standard

    Open to ALL domestic workers

    Join hundreds of nannies, housekeepers & elderly caregivers to build our power for greater rights & respect!

    December 3, 2011


    New York Academy of Medicine - 2nd Floor Hall

    Corner of 103rd Street and 5th Avenue (Manhattan)

    Convention Highlights:

    Free legal consultations (on employment, immigration, taxes)

    Workers' Rights Workshops

    Negotiation Tools & Techniques

    Guest Speakers

    Door Prizes

    Then, on Sunday


    December 4, 2011


    DWU members gather to celebrate our 2011 achievements and decide on important organizational matters for 2012 beyond.

    June 16, 2011


    Domestic workers' movement to build power, gain respect, and establish fair labor standards is gaining momentum in the US and across the world. In New York, we have won the nation's first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. We are working with the Department of Labor and our Ambassadors are located throughout the city making sure that workers and employers know about the new law, have the tools you need to exercise your rights, and become a larger, stronger, united workforce to improve our working conditions. Our victory in New York helped to inspire domestic workers in CA, and they are now pushing a Bill of Rights in the state legislature. Last month, the CA bill passed the Assembly with a 41-19 vote and it's on its way to the Senate!

    As part of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, we have also been advocating for an international law to recognize and protect domestic workers. After more than a year of organizing with domestic worker groups and unions around the world, we have won the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers! It is the world's first set of standards for domestic work industry that workers, employers, and governments negotiated and voted to pass at the International Labor Organization, which is the United Nations agency that sets global labor standards. Domestic workers in every country can now use these international standards to push for laws in their home countries. DWU Member Brontie Scott says, “It is very exciting that we are finally moving forward. I just hope that this is going to really lead to worldwide protection for domestic workers. For too long domestic workers have been exploited and excluded. And, for too long we’ve been taken advantage of.”

    Though the adoption of these articles represents a giant step forward in our struggle to win respect, recognition, and rights for the work that we do, the journey is long from over. As DWU Member Angelica Hernandez says, "It's important for us to be seen and recognized. Before, we were invisible. Now, the whole world is talking about us. We are on the right path and must keep going." It will be up to all of us to work hard to ensure that the United States adopts these new hard-won standards. A worker from the Guatemalan domestic workers union, who was present for the ILO vote, said, "We have broken the silence. We have yet to break our chains." As domestic workers celebrate this historic milestone, we take our place in a growing global effort to transform the world of work and bring dignity to the work that makes all other work possible.

    March 31, 2011

    DWU at the White House!

    On March 28, 2011, Allison Julien, a nanny who has been an active member of Domestic Workers United for nine years, spoke on a panel at the White House celebrating Women's History Month and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. During the discussion, facilitated by Secretary of Labor, HIlda Solis, and Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett, Allison was one of four women who shared their stories of organizing labor in their workplaces. She spoke about the role of women in labor organization, the monumental passing of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and the future of collective bargaining for new labor laws in the United States.

    Speaking on behalf of the 2.5 million domestic workers in this country, Allison said, "We're not trying to get rich doing this job. All we're asking for is basic labor protections. We're human beings and we want to be treated like human beings. We want to be recognized like real workers. we want to be protected like real workers. The work we do matters. . . . We're opening the doors, pulling back the shutters and showing you the faces behind the work. We're showing you that we're the ones who make all other work possible."

    During her participation in the panel, Allison Julien addressed the American public with a message of hope and a call to action. She acknowledged that domestic work has a history of secrecy and undervaluation, noting, "We work in the shadows of slavery. If we do not tell our stories, nobody will tell our stories." And, listing the triumphs of Domestic Workers United as well as the parallel efforts to win rights for domestic workers that are currently taking place across the country, Allison left her audience with the empowering and uniting message: "We've got a whole lot of states in this country that we've got to conquer, and we've got labor laws to change!"

    February 10, 2011

    Get your 'Know Your Rights' Guide Today!

    Come Get a ‘Know Your Rights’ Guide!

    We have tons of Rights Begin at Home: Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Worker booklets for domestic workers! Come get your copy!

    The guide includes info on
    -domestic workers’ rights
    -immigration issues related to your job
    -tips for finding work
    -how to negotiate with your boss
    -and templates of contracts, demand letters, work hour logs, and more!

    Come by the office to pick up yours today!! Don't know where to find us?
    Call at 212-481-4757

    Christine Lewis on the Colbert Report!

    Share some love for Christine and DWU in the comments section!
    Let’s keep on building the movement!

    January 18, 2011

    Tweet DWU!

    New for 2011!
    Now you can tweet your favorite DWU blog posts! Just click the link below!