In a 2012 survey by the Center for Urban Economic Development, 23 percent of domestic workers and 67 percent of live-in domestic workers interviewed earned less than minimum wage. On top of the paltry pay, though the workers reported regular abuse and violations, a full 91 percent admitted that they didn’t complain about poor working conditions for fear of losing their job. In recognition of this grim state of affairs for many low-wage workers, Hawaii recently followed New York’s lead and became the second state to pass a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, a historic law guaranteeing core rights previously denied to workers in some of the fastest growing, and most poorly-paid, occupations in the country.
Both the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Domestic Workers United are campaigning for legislation protecting domestic workers in each state nationwide. Implore your state representatives to fight for a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in your state. (If you live in New York City or Hawaii, tell your reps that you appreciate living in a state that takes care of its own.)
The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work, the first national survey of domestic workers in the US, breaks ground by providing an empirically based and representative picture of domestic employment in 21st century America.
This video, featuring domestic workers discussing their work and lives, makes clear why the human stakes are so high in this fight.