What do Domestic Workers United and Shakespeare have in common?
In September 2013, several members of Domestic Workers United performed in the Public Work's production of Shakespeare's The Tempest. The mission of Public Works is to bring New Yorkers of all backgrounds together to engage and build community around theatre and the arts. To cast the community production of The Tempest, Public Works partnered with Domestic Workers United, The DreamYard Project, The Children’s Aid Society, The Brownsville Recreation Center, and the Fortune Society. The production--which was a musical adaptation of the original Shakespeare--received rave reviews for its energy, creativity, and inclusivity from theater critics across the city.
The next DWU general meeting is a meeting and holiday party mashup! There will be plenty of food and drinks, as well as a festive spirit to celebrate a year of hard work. The meeting and party will take place from 4-8pm on December 21, 2013 at 10 West 37th Street, Suite 4W (between 5th Ave and 6th Ave). The DWU office is easily accessible from the B/D/F/M, N/R/Q, 1/2/3, and 7 trains.
New member orientation will begin at 3:00pm.
The Domestic Workers United general meeting occurs every month on the third Saturday and it is usually located at 85 South Oxford Street between Fulton and Lafayette in Brooklyn.
On November 8th, three Domestic Workers United members and DWU's Outreach Coordinator, Joycelyn Gill-Campbell, met for a cross cultural exchange with a five-person delegation from Israel and Mr. Christopher King from the US Department of Education and Cultural Affairs. The objective of this exchange was to introduce the visitors to America's ethnic and cultural diversity, examine demographic trends in the US, and explore diversity in the media.
DWU members described the mission of Domestic Workers United to the visitors and shared about the different ways that DWU empowers its members to stand up and fight for their rights. They outlined DWU's outreach strategy and ongoing efforts to implement the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, including the legal services offered to members suffering abuse and exploitation.
It was a great day of sharing and learning about each other's work.
On the afternoon of Sunday October 28, 2012, in anticipation of a storm that would make history, pounding New York City into submission by leaving unprecedented destruction from New York's Bronx to Breezy Point, Vilma Rozen, DWU Board member and elder care provider to Dee took matters into her own hands. Ninety-two year old Dee's home in Staten Island was in an evacuation zone. Despite having no family near by, Dee, however, was not alone. Vilma's caring, proactive, and take-charge nature ensured Dee's safety. "I knew there were going to be problems with Dee's apartment. Her building is so close to the water and, given she lives on the third floor, there was no chance I was going to leave her there" said Vilma.
On Sunday afternoon Vilma, together with her husband Meir Rozen and coworker Nisia massiell, moved furniture in Dee's apartment away from windows and emptied the refrigerator. She then took Dee to her own apartment, where she stayed for two weeks until power, heat, and hot water was restored. Dee's family in California was understandably nervous:
"At ninety-two, Dee is very independent. But we were worried for her. We were watching the news and hearing State Island was being hit hard. We also knew Dee's home was in an evacuation zone. Without Vilma and Nisia, Dee wouldn't have been able to leave her apartment. The first floow of her building filled with over two feet of water. We are so grateful to Vilma, who was keeping us informed throughout the storm as much as she could. Speaking to Dee regularly, we knew she was content and happy. Vilma's provisions were very good. She and her husband welcomed her into their home for two weeks. She takes her work so seriously, returning to Dee's apartment several times to check on the damage and to make sure heat and hot water was restored before she returned home."
When DWU staff checked in with Vilma regarding her living conditions post storm sandy, Vilma said, "until the storm and all the problems subside, Dee will rest peacefully in my bedroom like an angel."
Domestic workers often engage in daily activities, such as running personal errands for their employers, scheduling appointments for family members, and preparing meals for their employers and their employers' guests, yet are often not able to formally incorporate these responsibilities into their work contacts and agreements. In September, DWU members participated in our Household Management 101 course, and learned how to market their managerial skills, as well as cultivate new ones to help better market themselves as professionals. Congratulations to our Fall 2012 Household Management Graduates!
DWU Household Management 101 teaches domestic workers the real-life skills needed to secure better employment. During the training members learned:
• Personal presentation: How to look and speak like a
• How to improve their interviewing techniques
• Cultivate interpersonal and communication skills
needed to negotiate for higher wages and better
• Learn how to write an excellent resume
• Know their rights as employees!
DWU member and participant Ann Marie explains why DWU's professional trainings have been vital to her own personal growth:
"DWU trainings teach us our worth as workers, and that if we're not happy with our current jobs, we can have something better. They give us the skills, the knowledge, and the certification that enables us to be able to go to an interview and say, 'look, these are my credentials,' just as you would in any other industry. I can now negotiate fully for what I think I'm worth."
At DWU we are passionate about empowering workers to stand up for their rights, as well as providing courses that can cultivate the confidence and skills needed to professionalize and facilitate positive change. Stay updated about our next workforce development trainings! Sign up for updates today!
On September 20, we were thrilled to celebrate DWU's new home with our allies, donors, members, and friends at DWU's fundraiser office warming party. The contributions made, big and small, are vital to our success. The support of our community ensures we have the resources necessary to build people power, and advocate for the rights of domestic workers, whose work makes all other work possible!
That night guests saw our office outfitted for a fabulous affair and heard from board members, staff, employers, and children cared for by domestic workers talk about why implementing the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights and continuing the work of raising standards even higher is vital to this industry.
DWU sends a heartfelt "thank you" for all who joined us to celebrate our new office. It was wonderful to see everyone's smiling faces and to join together in good spirit!
To watch a testimonial by DWU Board Member and Ambassador Jennifer Barnard, click here. To watch Donna Schneiderman speak out about the importance of implementing the Bill of Rights, click here. To listen to Abby speak out in support of her nanny and all invisible workers, click here. Lastly, to learn about the next phase of our work, a shared vision between workers and employers for a Code of Care, click here.
For almost four years now, Pat Francois, DWU member and leader in the domestic workers movement, has been fighting for justice. Yesterday afternoon, the jury delivered its verdict in Pat's case against her former employers, filmmaker Matthew Mazer and sports agent Sheryl Shade, after 8 days in court and almost four years in litigation. We are thrilled to share that Pat has won her claims for unpaid wages and for the assault she suffered at the hands of Matthew Mazer.
For six years, Pat took loving care of Mazer's and Shade's child despite being grossly underpaid and mistreated. In December 2008, Mazer physically assaulted and verbally abused Pat, calling her a "stupid Black b****" and said that he hated her and hoped she would die a "horrible death." For too long, Mazer and Shade refused to be held accountable for their actions.
Through this entire ordeal, Pat worked tirelessly to win justice not only for herself but for domestic workers everywhere. She marched, rallied and lobbied in Albany to win recognition and rights for domestic workers, so that no one else would suffer the same abuse and exploitation.
Pat shared her story countless times so that lawmakers would feel the urgency of providing domestic workers with rights and protections. Thanks to Pat, her courage and that of thousands of domestic workers, New York passed the nation's first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Finally, domestic workers, otherwise excluded from all other legislation providing labor protections, were recognized as real workers under the law.
Everyday, domestic workers like Pat start their day early in the morning to care for their employers' loved ones and keep their homes healthy and safe. Just treatment in the form of fair wages, benefits and respect is nothing less than what domestic workers deserve for the critical work they do. Pat's case stands as a reminder that the courage and strength of domestic workers will always prevail.
We thank all domestic workers, families, friends and supporters for your love and solidarity. We could not have made it through this arduous journey without you.
The struggle is far from over. Even this victory is incomplete as the full scope of Pat's suffering has not been accounted for, and other domestic workers are still facing abuse and exploitation. By standing together, we will continue winning until we bring respect once and for all.
Household Management 101 & 102:
Finding a Good Household Job and Cultivating
the Skills Needed to Earn More Money
In this two-day course, students learn real-life skills they can immediately apply to help them find a better job and earn more money.
It’s not unusual for employers to ask domestic workers to run personal errands, schedule appointments, and prepare family meals. Yet, these responsibilities are not often perceived to be part of the work of being a nanny, a housekeeper, or an elderly care provider. Given that many domestic workers often engage in managerial tasks that help facilitate the smooth and efficient functioning of their employers’ homes, at DWU we have designed courses that help workers identify and market their already existing managerial skills, as well as improve on ones to help them better market themselves as professionals.
DWU’s Household Management 101 and 102 courses teach domestic workers the real-life skills they can use to compete in the domestic work market, and to secure better employment.
Presentation: How to look and speak like a professional
How to improve upon ones interviewing techniques
Cultivate the interpersonal skills needed to help workers find and maintain the best jobs
Identify and market the skills needed to help earn higher wages
Learn to recognize what employers want
Improve communication skills to better articulate and get what you want!
Learn how to write an excellent resume
Understand what a work benefit is, as well as understand the value of a work benefit
Better articulate ones terms when negotiating for higher wages
Know your rights as an employee!
Nanny Training Course
The Nanny Training Course is our signature class in partnership with Cornell University ILR School.