In the News

Working-Class Voters Hold Key to 2016

To win in 2016, candidates in both parties must capture working class voters of all stripes.

Presidential candidates from both parties are tossing around ideas about how to help everyday working Americans.

But something’s missing. Strongmen on the right are speaking almost exclusively to white, working-class voters, stoking populist resentment toward people of color—both immigrants and African Americans. Progressives, for their part, are calling for better wages and quality of life across the board, including for those vilified on the right.

To win in 2016 and beyond, candidates must reach out to both groups; they must speak to all working people. Those who focus exclusively on one group or the other will undermine their chances of winning the White House.

A Nanny Speaks Up

This is real work. Domestic workers make every work possible. If we don’t go to work employers can’t go to their jobs. Don’t we deserve respect? Don’t we deserve to not feel like slaves?
— Jennifer Bernard

Professional women need somebody to look after the house...but people don’t like to think about it. I think women find it more uncomfortable to think about than men because so many of these people are women.
— Alison Wolf

Alison Wolf's book has a provocative sub-title: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World. For a long time I've been wanting to do a show on race and class, and to focus on the women who make the lives of modern professionals run smoothly. First I talk to Alison, a professor at King's College London and a labor market expert. Then we spend the rest of the show with Jennifer Bernard, a Trinidad-born, New York-based nanny. We hear about the unequal work environment that is the home, how she began to gain confidence on the job, and what makes her feel successful.

2 New Initiatives Call for Benefits, Safety Net for Gig Workers

Work is changing. More people than ever — some 53 million Americans and growing — work for themselves or piece together a variety of gigs. But laws haven’t kept pace with the economy’s rapid evolution, depriving many freelancers of the benefits and protections of full-time jobs.

Now momentum is building for broad-based nationwide efforts to improve the lives of independent workers. Two initiatives unveiled this week — a call for portable benefits and a Good Work Code — seek to provide a social safety net and guarantees of stability alongside flexibility.

. . . .

In a separate but related effort, an initiative called the Good Work Code on Friday launched a campaign to guide online companies into espousing eight values of ethical contract employment, such as a livable wage, safety, stability and opportunities for advancement. Initially 12 companies, ranging from, a public company with 7.7 million workers, to VetPronto, a startup that arranges house calls from some 20 vets and 25 veterinary assistants, signed on, but the backers hope it will spread widely.

IDWF President Myrtle Witbooi earns Global Fairness Award

The Global Fairness Initiative honored International Domestic Worker Federation President Myrtle Witbooi as one of three 2015 Global Fairness Award recipients. This extraordinary recognition of Myrtle's lifetime achievement celebrated her years of organizing domestic workers in South Africa, and now around the world. Myrtle's acceptance of this award on behalf of the "millions of domestic workers who continue to struggle" placed the the IDWF in the international spotlight--as a transformational movement for women workers, immigrants and labor activists.

Jason Furman, Chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors set the stage for this award by claiming, "It is thanks in part to Myrtle's work, that millions of domestic workers around the world are better off today." Her speech drew a standing ovation, as she accepted the award on behalf of the global domestic workers movement and reminded the audience that "the struggle is not over yet."

It’s time to build a movement for good work. Are you with us?

The on-demand economy has delightfully solved for convenience and efficiency to get customers what they want, when they want it. It has also enabled people to find new ways of earning income. Stay-at-home moms can capitalize on the time between family responsibilities. People in-between jobs can patch their income while they consider their next career move.

The good news is if what you do pays you well, and you find enough hours, you can lead a flexible life, work less hours, and be your own boss. The bad news is that if the work doesn’t pay well, life is becoming rather precarious. For lower wage workers of the on-demand economy, cobbling together enough income often means never “clocking out.” Workers in this new economy are glued to their phones, with two or three apps open, constantly trying to grab enough gigs to pay their landlord or buy back-to-school clothes. And while it’s theoretically flexible, the work isn’t yet stable. The pay isn’t yet predictable.

On-demand economy like 'Wild, Wild West'

Flexibility, livable wages and room for growth. These are just a few things that make up a "good" job.

That's according to the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which wants to make sure the growing number of on-demand jobs are good jobs.

This week, it announced an initiative called the Good Work Code, which aims to set standards for on-demand firms.

As it stands now, companies like Uber, Handy and Alfred are giving workers unprecedented flexibility. But many of these firms rely on contract workers to perform services, which means workers don't get minimum wage, overtime compensation, unemployment insurance or protection from workplace discrimination. They aren't entitled to benefits and don't have the right to join a union.

Some have said the current options (contract workers or employees) are too limited for this new workforce. Regulatory constraints keep companies from testing out what new models might look like.

The Domestic Workers Alliance Creates New Framework for Improving Gig Economy Jobs

The new sector of on-demand services—via apps that allow users to instantly access everything from food delivery to cleaning services—is also creating a new type of job. Unfortunately, many of those jobs, offered gig by gig through online platforms or apps, aren’t as well-designed as the slick interfaces that dole them out.

Workers sometimes report uncertainty over why their ratings have dropped or why they're being fired. Some apps are designed in a way that could penalize workers who leave jobs that make them feel unsafe. Platforms rarely offer a good way for workers to offer feedback or connect with other workers, which means that when a Postmates courier had a friendly suggestion for how he could be more efficient, heresorted to an online petition. What stability or a safety net might look like in this type of labor market is still a giant unsolved question. And workers on some platforms, despite working full time, still can’t make a living wage.

Domestic Worker Groups Announce Alliance At Clinton Global Initiative Conference

WASHINGTON -- The growing social movement advocating for domestic workers and, which calls itself the world's largest online care marketplace, will announce a new partnership Wednesday afternoon at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Denver.

The collaboration, called the Fair Care Pledge, joins the website, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Hand in Hand, a network of domestic employers. The alliance is an “exemplary approach to addressing critical domestic challenges," according to the Clinton initiative, an offshoot of the foundation founded by former President Bill Clinton in 2005. Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, are serving as the conference hosts.

How to pay the help

A huge job site is partnering with a domestic worker advocacy group to educate families on what's fair.

A few Decembers ago, a busy attorney named Julie Kay was running around buying gifts and planning holiday travel with family, coordinating schedules for the women she employed to help out with her ailing mother and infant daughter. While putting together her holiday cards, it hit her that she’d forgotten something.

“All of a sudden I realized I hadn’t done any of that for the elder caregivers,” Kay says — meaning let them go see their own families. “I realized that these people had the same relationships as I did with my mother, and I thought ‘Oh, I should give them paid time off.'”

Read more about NDWA's partnership with on »

Q&A with Alicia Garza, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter

Alicia Garza is the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance and a co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter. Here she discusses her work with marginalized communities and why inclusion is an essential aspect of any society.

Please speak a little about your background. How did you end up working with the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance?