Domestic workers are organizing in San Francisco, New York, and around the world to establish a bill of rights that acknowledges the value of their labor and pushes for economic justice and freedom from physical and sexual violence, exposure to toxics, dehumanizing treatment, and other dangers found in the workplace.
Domestic Workers United (DWU) in New York, an organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers, is working to pass the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. They write,
Domestic workers often confront a lawless working environment where low pay, long hours, no health care or sick leave, and arbitrary treatment are the norm. Working in the isolation of private homes, behind closed doors, an epidemic of physical and mental abuse plagues the domestic work industry. The Bill will ensure domestic workers are provided a limited number of paid sick days, personal days, and vacation days; notice and severance pay; yearly raises tied to inflation; full overtime pay for any work over 40 hours per week; one day of rest per week; protection from employment discrimination; and health benefits.
Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) in San Francisco, a grassroots organization of Latina immigrant women, along with a statewide coalition of domestic workers, also demanded a statewide resolution for the rights of domestic workers in California to set the groundwork for advocacy at the United Nations. Juana Flores from MUA and the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance (launched at the 2007 US Social Forum) says,
This is a collective effort. It’s not only organizations in the United States, but at the international level, there are many organizations that we are working with. I feel positive that we will be seeing change that domestic work will become work that is recognized. So I feel happy as I go to Geneva. I feel many hopes that there will be a change in the conditions that domestic workers face in their day to day experience.
Support Mujeres Unidas y Activas at their 20th anniversary celebration on Thursday, May 27th @ 7 pm at the Modern Times Bookstore at 888 Valencia St, San Francisco. Organizers with MUA and the National Alliance of Domestic Workers will speak about the 20th anniversary of MUA and the rise of grassroots Bay Area immigrant women activists in this national work and the recent Mother’s Day protest against SB1070 in Arizona. There will also be a discussion of Remaking Citizenship, where Kathleen Coll weaves the stories of Mexican and Central American women’s migrations, lives and activism with history and analysis of the anti-immigrant upsurge in 1990s California. Her book documents two decades of Latina organizing and activism in the Bay Area- examining the impact of legislation on Latina women’s lives and their engagement in grassroots political organizing — from MUA’s domestic workers’ rights campaign to fights against domestic violence and immigrant-bashing.
Also, check out this video for more info on organizing for domestic workers’ rights: