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).