- 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.
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.