Seven years ago, I was brought into the field of community organizing as a volunteer with Domestic Workers United (DWU). At that time, DWU’s organizing efforts were among the most inspired and strategic in New York City, fresh off the passage of a city-wide domestic workers bill of rights. Seven years later, the domestic workers movement – at the intersection of race, gender, immigration and labor – is among the most inspired and strategic movements in the country. With the founding of the National Domestic Workers Alliance at the 2007 United States Social Forum, the influence and impact organized domestic workers are having grows larger each day, offering both a scathing critique of the status quo and a road map to get us somewhere more just and equitable.
On Tuesday, the domestic worker movement took a huge step forward. In their own, words …
On June 1, about 100 domestic workers and supporters got on buses headed for Albany to urge senators one last time to vote YES for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights during today’s session. With truth on our side, we educated thousands of Albany residents and legislative workers about the conditions faced by domestic workers and the urgency of basic rights and protections. We hit senate offices to remind them about the vote, to address any last-minute concerns, and to urge them to vote in favor of the bill.
After two hours of deliberation, filled with impassioned and moving speeches by members of the Democratic conference recalling the struggles of their mothers and grandmothers who had been domestic workers, desiring to reclaim New York’s pioneering leadership in workers’ rights, and highlighting the moral significance of this bill, the New York State Senate finally came down on the right side of history. That night, the New York State Senate voted 33-28 to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.
We have come so far, since we first set out on this journey. We have gotten everyone to learn about the domestic workers’ plight and the history of exclusion. We have built and deepened strong alliances with many different sectors of our society. Everyone has been touched and moved in some way. We could not have accomplished all that we have without your support and without you standing alongside us in this struggle.
We ask you to stay with us, as we enter the last phase of our campaign for justice. Now we must get the Assembly and Senate bills reconciled so that the governor can sign into law much-needed and long overdue basic rights and protections for the workers who make all other work possible.
Priscilla Gonzalez, Director, Domestic Workers United
“We have a dream that one day all work will be valued equally.”
Check out DWU featured on the front page of the NY Times!
Update: Good summary of the legislation by the Progressive States Network here.