Last year, BCRW hosted the first National Domestic Workers Alliance conference, bringing together domestic workers from across the country to develop a national agenda, and to discuss how best to educate the public and strategize to achieve fair labor standards for domestic workers, including a living wage, basic benefits, and health care. This year, we will once again host the National Domestic Workers Alliance for a conference that will discuss issues that are of particular importance to domestic workers on the East Coast. A largely invisible but supremely vital segment of the economy, domestic workers care for children and the elderly and perform domestic and housekeeping work, often making less than minimum wage and working long hours without paid sick days, vacation time, or other basic protections that most other workers in the U.S. enjoy, all the while making it possible for their employers to balance work and family. Support for domestic workers not only makes our society and economy more just, but also benefits employers who rely on the labor of others for childcare, elder care, and housekeeping in order to meet their work and family obligations. Please join BCRW and the National Domestic Workers Alliance to raise awareness on how to extend basic protections to all working women.
This public event, “Women and Work: Building Solidarity with America’s Vulnerable Workers,” will take place during the East Coast Regional Meeting of the National Domestic Workers Alliance at Barnard College and will feature a video presentation of women leaders across the country who are raising their voices to support the work being done on behalf of domestic workers in this country. There will be over 100 domestic worker organizers in attendance, along with feminist scholars, activists, legislators, and other allies. The event is co-sponsored by the Program in the Study of Women and Gender at Princeton University, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU and the Institute for Women and Work at Cornell.
For the past 5 years, domestic workers have come together across communities to organize for dignity and respect, and demand the passage of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York State, including notice of termination, severance pay, sick days and holidays, and an annual cost of living wage increase. In the wake of the economic crisis, the conditions facing domestic workers have worsened. Facing alarming rates of lay-offs, cut wages and extended hours, without notice, severance pay or any safety net, now more than ever—domestic workers need a bill of rights.