In 2010, New York domestic workers won a historic victory with the passage of the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, setting minimum standards in the domestic work industry. The law guarantees privately employed nannies, housekeepers, and elder caregivers with at least a day of rest per week, at least three days of rest per year after the first year of employment, overtime at the regular rate of pay for live-in workers, sets a day’s work at 8 hours, minimum wage coverage for companions of the sick and elderly, and protection from discrimination and harassment. With the Bill of Rights in force, DWU’s work has turned to outreach, education and enforcement around these basic rights and protections. DWU is also building power to raise industry standards so that workers can enjoy fair wages, benefits, and job security. Below are a list of our current campaigns:
New Day, New Standard: Know Your Rights
We launched a mass, multi-media Know Your Rights campaign to educate domestic workers about their rights under the newly passed Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. In addition to distribution of printed materials, DWU set up an extensive Know Your Rights website for workers, employers, and advocates. There are also pre-recorded audio clips – accessible via the web site and a telephone hotline – designed to sound like a call-in talk show to provide a fun and engaging way of disseminating information about domestic worker rights. In our effort to educate the broader public, large-scale banners depicting positive images of domestic workers and the value of care work will debut in the Spring and travel throughout key neighborhoods in NY. DWU thanks its partners: Urban Justice Center, National Employment Law Project, People’s Production House, Center for Urban Pedagogy, Groundswell Mural Project.
Department of Labor
DWU is working closely with the New York State Department of Labor (DoL) to enforce the newly enacted Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Through coordinated outreach and education, we are ensuring that information is widely accessible to workers and employers. With support from the Urban Justice Center, we are also supporting workers to take their claims to the DoL when their rights have been violated. We are further pushing for vigilant enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions and increased focus on collections once an order to comply has been issued. Thanks to our monitoring of the new law’s implementation, the DoL is prioritizing domestic worker cases in an effort to strengthen its application.
The Road to Collective Bargaining
Having established minimum standards, we are now poised to build upon the victory by adapting a non-traditional collective bargaining structure for the domestic work industry. DWU is facilitating neighborhood-based dialogues between workers and employers to identify shared interests, build common understanding and mutual respect. We are organizing to set up Domestic Work Justice Zones and negotiate area-specific agreements on wages, benefits and terms of employment. In partnership with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Association, Park Slope Parents Association, and various congregations and community partners, we are transforming the domestic work industry around a vision that uplifts families and caregivers alike and simultaneously paving the way for a new labor movement.
Justice for Exploited Workers
We organize locally to win justice for individual workers who have survived wage theft and other forms of abuse at the workplace. Their cases raise awareness and maintain momentum around our issues in the broader public and media.
Join us in seeking justice for DWU member Pat Francois who was physically assaulted by her employer, Matthew Mazer in 2008. Sign the petition today!
Paid Sick Days
DWU is a proud member of the New York State Paid Family Leave Coalition. Together, we are working to pass paid sick days legislation in New York City. Working families, of which domestic workers are a part, cannot afford to lose a day’s pay or risk loss of their job to care for themselves and their families. It is important to adapt family-responsive policies like Paid Sick Days before the work-family conflicts experienced by an escalating number of Americans reach crisis level. New York City can and should pass a law requiring employers to provide paid sick time for their employees.