Labor of Love: News from NDWA
4.9.2012 | NDWA
Welcome to Labor of Love: News from NDWA, the first edition of the new e-newsletter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)! Our work in support of America’s 2.5 million domestic workers and towards a caring economy for all is growing every day. We are excited to share important updates and reports from the field with you. Though domestic work is the work that makes all other work possible, it is the support of friends, family and allies like YOU that makes our organizing possible. Thank you for standing with us!
After the historic announcement by President Obama in December 2011 about possible new federal regulations governing the domestic work industry, NDWA organized over 2,000 members and allies to submit formal comments to the DOL in support of such proposed changes, like extending basic labor protections like minimum wage and overtime pay to domestic workers and homecare workers. Our organizing efforts, part of our Caring Across Generations campaign, highlighted the importance of providing basic labor rights to live-in domestic workers and America’s 1.8 million home-care workers who care for our elderly and people with disabilities.
Here is what some of these 2,000 comments touched upon:
- "I love when the person that I am taking care of understands that they are getting the best of care." —Marilyn, home care worker, NY
- "Treat all workers fair. Keep the love in your heart.” —Michael, OR
- “ I used to work as a domestic worker for 12 years and used to get paid $6 per hour in NYC. The law will add dignity to domestic work.” —Rose A., NY
Our initial goal for this campaign was to submit 1,000 comments and we almost doubled it in just a short time!
With the public comment period now closed, the DOL will review all submissions and make changes to the proposed regulation based on their analysis. The Office of Management and Budget has a final review thereafter; the end results will be published in the Federal Registry and are then enforceable. NDWA is working to have these basic labor protections extended to homecare workers this year!
NDWA’s recent and innovative #BeTheHelp campaign, launched to connect with fans of the acclaimed film “The Help,” enabled NDWA to successfully reach a wider and more diverse audience than ever before. NDWA National Organizer, Barbara Young put it this way: “This movie put us in the public domain! Many millions of people know about domestic workers now!”
NDWA’s success included:
- Over 7,000 views of the special NDWA produced “Today’s Help” video we released in August 2012 when “The Help” opened in theaters.
- Over 100,000 views of the follow-up “Help Is…” videos series NDWA produced in collaboration with Participant Media to coincide with the DVD release of “The Help” in December 2012.
- Over 1,000 visitors to our website on Oscar night and a growth of over 30% of our national email list of supporters.
- Over 10,000 signatories to our Change.org Petition for the California Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights; among these supporters were a number of celebrities, including Harrold Perrineau and Eve Ensler.
- Coverage in over 40 media outlets including stories in mainstream media that have never before covered our work and which reach millions of Americans. These included People Magazine, Us Weekly, Ok!, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and Entertainment Tonight.
- Oscar night watch parties hosted by NDWA affiliates and supporters in 10 cities across the country including NYC, Los Angles, San Francisco and Chicago, and by our international allies in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
NDWA was especially thrilled to have over 40 domestic workers from around the country travel to Hollywood on Oscar weekend for a special Oscar Night Viewing Party. This gathering was featured on Entertainment Tonight and the global beauty brand IMAN Cosmetics provided a special “beauty day” for the workers to help give them the star treatment. These workers broadcast live-stream messages to fans of “The Help” during the Oscars, encouraging them to take action for today’s domestic workers.
In March, NDWA traveled to Birmingham, AL, the heart of the civil rights movement, to convene a special women’s human rights delegation exploring the impact of recent anti-immigrant legislation in the state and help build relationships with local leaders.
As co-conveners of the We Belong Together Women’s Human Rights Delegation, we brought together 18 women leaders from around the country, including NDWA affiliates Mujeres Unidas y Activas and Casa de Maryland for four action-packed days building relationships across sectors and strengthening the movement for immigrant rights and dignity.
We heard from immigrant women about the impacts of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, HB56, as well as the Secure Communities and 287g programs. The stories women shared demonstrated that these policies deeply undermine the dignity and well-being of women and children—and that immigrant women are fighting back with tremendous leadership and courage. Our delegates wrote a powerful statement on what they heard, presented it at a public media/community roundtable, and delivered hundreds of children’s letters to Alabama youth, letting them know that they’re not alone in the struggle. NDWA staff and affiliates led capacity-building trainings for two local groups of immigrant women who have become leaders of the movement. Many of these women are domestic workers interested in affiliating with NDWA and plan to join us at our upcoming National Congress in Washington DC in May.
This delegation was a great success. NDWA deepened the commitment of women leaders in diverse sectors to take action; generated important media coverage about the impact of immigration policies on women; and built relationships in a state where NDWA previously had no on-the-ground presence. NDWA also drew deep inspiration from the fighting spirit of immigrant women in Alabama. Laws like HB56 are designed to tear us apart, but are actually bringing us together and feeding the fire of powerful organizing!
In conjunction with the Caring Across Generations Campaign, NDWA helped organize a wildly successful Care Congress in Seattle on February 11th. Over 200 care givers, consumers, union members, elected officials and community allies came together to share stories, commit to building an economy of care and building a strong, lasting movement.
More than a dozen community organizations collaborated on the Congress, including these groups whose leadership was key to the effort: Casa Latina, Washington CAN!, SEIU Local 775, the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans and NDWA.
Domestic workers and Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata shared their testimony and stories, and leaders from Jobs with Justice and NDWA were among those providing important national political context and analysis.
Over a two-year period (2011-2012) Care Congresses are planned for a total of 15 cities. This summer, Congresses will be held in Southern California (May 6), New York (June 3), Chicago (June), Baltimore (July), Washington DC (July 12), Denver (TBA), Miami (TBA) and Albuquerque (TBA).
NDWA leaders are the experts on domestic work that our movement has been waiting for! Launched in 2010, our Research Team has just completed the collection and review of surveys from over 2,000 domestic workers in 14 cities across the country. Twenty-seven organizations and organizing projects were involved in this participatory research project, which will produce a landmark report on domestic work this summer.
The Research Team — including NDWA and our partners from DataCenter and the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and anchor organizations La Colectiva, IDEPSCA (Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California) and Domestic Workers United — gathered in January for a 4-day workshop to review the preliminary data and move the project on to its next stage. The stories we heard from domestic workers and participatory research experience are helping to paint a much more detailed understanding of the issues domestic workers face and opportunities in our organizing. The survey component itself involved training surveyors and developing strategies to reach a broad cross-section of nannies, housekeepers and caregivers in each of the target cities.
In the months ahead, the team will complete the data analysis, conduct additional structured interviews in several cities to gather more stories from domestic workers, and draft and finalize a written report based on our findings. This report will have a public release on June 16th, the anniversary of the Domestic Worker Convention at the International Labor Organization.
NDWA will host our 5th annual National Member Congress in Washington DC this May. This gathering is one of the highlights of our year and will bring over 400 domestic workers from over 19 cities together to build relationships, develop skills, learn about our history and issues that impact domestic workers, hear from important partners in our movements, and take collective action. Held May 19-21, the Congress will include a day of corporate accountability actions, lobby visits and congressional hearings connected to the Caring Across Generations Campaign; keynote remarks from leaders and movement partners such as Rep. Barbara Lee*, Rev. James Lawson*, US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis*, Van Jones* and Devious Maids*; and a cultural celebration and dance party. Allies and supporters can join us for certain sessions during our three-day event, including our day of action at the Capitol in partnership with National People’s Action and the 99% Spring!