Domestic Worker Stories
Our network of domestic workers — nannies, housecleaners and home care workers — are countering sweeping societal challenges with creativity, innovation and care. We’re daring to ask what is possible when we empower women of color and build a world that allows all people to live with dignity and respect. This has led to solutions that have changed cultural narratives, created community out of isolation, built power out of disenfranchisement, and created policy solutions for a bolder, more equitable future. Learn more about the women that power this movement.
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Linda Oalican is the Co-Founder and Director of DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association. Originally from the Philippines, she grew up in a family of peasants. In the 1980s, Linda worked for the Philippine government where she became a union organizer. In 1994, like many other women around the world, she migrated to the U.S and first worked as a domestic worker. Drawing upon her organizing background, in 2002 Linda co-founded DAMAYAN with fellow Filipina domestic workers, to collectively address the abuses she and others experienced. With a deep commitment to the leadership of domestic workers, she has supported hundreds of Filipina domestic workers, including dozens of trafficking survivors, in their development as advocates. Linda was a founding member of NDWA and served on NDWA’s Board of Directors, and continues to be a strong leader in the movement for migrant workers’ rights, dignity and justice.
“As a black woman who has encountered violence and injustice, I’m stepping up to lead. As a caregiver and one in need of more care, there is no resting place for my determination to do more to work against any agenda of injustice”.
Patricia Sauls is a long-time domestic worker leader who was born and raised in Georgia. Her domestic work experience started as a teenager babysitting, then houseparent to developmentally delayed adults, house cleaner, nanny, caregiver to the elderly and currently navigating what it means to be differently able. She worked as a domestic worker for over 50 years, and in her work, she encountered issues that many domestic workers are familiar with, including low pay, discrimination, and injustice.
Patricia is a graduate of the NDWA’s (SOL) Strategy, Leadership, Organizing program and as an active member of the We Dream in Black – Georgia Chapter, Patricia has been a part of countless actions and has traveled across the country advocating for domestic worker rights.
Iyesha Alston is a proud domestic worker and Gig Economy Organizing Fellow with NDWA Labs. She lives in Statesboro, Georgia with her family.
For many years she was a cleaner on the Angi platform (formerly Handy), before she became a vocal member in NDWA’s gig worker Facebook group. That’s when she stepped into a worker leadership role with NDWA.
Iyesha was a powerful and steady voice in helping NDWA Gig Worker Advocates negotiate and win the first legally binding agreement for domestic workers in the gig economy with Angi Services.
Since the summer of 2021, Iyesha serves on the pilot’s Angi Pro Committee where she and other workers meet with Angi executives every month to improve the working conditions at Angi.
“As domestic workers, we need to continue being instrumental in shaping the future of work.”
Allison Julien is a third generation domestic worker who migrated from Barbados in the early 1990’s and worked as a nanny in New York City for over 25 years. She worked 10-12 hour days with no breaks, without being paid for overtime and faced scrutiny from her employers for being sick. She has been organizing domestic workers for over a decade. She was a leader in the successful campaign to pass the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010 and was a founding member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance in 2007. As a Dorothy Bolden Fellow, Allison launched the We Dream in Black – New York initiative in NDWA. She currently serves as the We Dream in Black Organizing Director.
Antonia Peña is a proud domestic worker and loves domestic work. She has worked as a domestic worker since the age of 15 and came to the U.S. more than 20 years ago while working as a domestic worker for a diplomat family. It was her own experiences of abuse and the lack of protections that she saw in the domestic work industry that led her to become an organizer of domestic workers in 2000. She began organizing domestic workers at CASA Maryland, an NDWA affiliate, and participated in the founding of the National Domestic Workers Alliance in Atlanta, Georgia in 2007 as a representative of CASA. For 5 years she was the North American representative to the International Domestic Workers Federation and in 2017, she helped found the DMV Chapter of NDWA, where she is currently one of its co-lead organizers.
“I will not rest until all domestic workers are respected, valued, and paid well for their work.”
Maria Reyes is a co-founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She has been an active member of Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) for over 19 years.
She organized Latina domestic workers throughout the country, mobilized countless other domestic workers to build support for the California Bill of Rights campaign and provided
inspirational leadership in We Belong Together. Maria hopes to see domestic rights worker legislation pass in all 50 states. She lives in the Bay Area in California with her family and works as a National Organizer for NDWA.
Barbara has been a domestic worker for the past 17 years, and is well acquainted with the exploitation domestic workers face. She is a founding member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and has provided consistent and inspiring leadership for NDWA since its foundation.
For NDWA’s 15th Anniversary, we are honoring Richard Winsten’s invaluable contribution to the labor rights and domestic worker movement.
When our organization had few resources and the support of only a handful of organizations, Richard worked tirelessly to help pass the first Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in 2010 in New York—leading the way for the passage of Bills of Rights in other states and municipalities.
Invest in domestic workers and help sustain our movement to reimagine a future that we all deserve.