The Case For the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights: “Called Essential, Treated As Expendable”

Domestic workers, organizers and activists have been working with members of Congress to mend the precarity of domestic work. On July 29, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) reintroduced the historic Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, first introduced by Jayapal and then-Senator Kamala Harris in 2019.

My Home Is a Work Place: Domestic Workers Need Health and Safety Protections

“This past year has been devastating for domestic workers across the country,” writes Lily Tomlin, Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian. “This month, domestic workers are demanding an end to the exclusion from health and safety laws through the Health and Safety for All Workers Act, introduced by California state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo. The governor vetoed the bill last year, but this year, he has an opportunity to do right by our most essential workers.”

Behind Closed Doors: The Traumas of Domestic Work in the U.S.

Domestic workers often endure horrific abuses that go unchecked. Many are brought to the U.S. by employers promising a better life, only to find themselves subjected to forced labor, denied wages, and threatened with deportation.

“All I want as a domestic worker is recognition. Domestic work is seen as a lowly job but it’s a decent job and it’s vital to society. We should not be ignored. We are important.”

“Women’s Work”: How the Devaluation of Care Work Hurts Women and the Economy

Dismissed as “women’s work”—that is, not “really” work—taking care of children, attending to housework, and/or caring for the sick and elderly is both socially and economically invisible labor. It carries little prestige and, for those who do it for a living, very little pay. Yet, as pandemic life and the shrinking economy remind us, it is crucial, demanding labor. Without it, our economy does not function at the household nor at the national level.

“No Relief”: The Impact of COVID-19 on Domestic Workers

A recent survey of more than 20,000 Spanish-speaking domestic workers conducted by the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) has revealed a rapid and sustained loss of jobs and income that’s resulted in widespread housing and food insecurity.

“These jobs will be a large share of the jobs for future but the lowest paid with little to no access to a safety net,” said Ai-Jen Poo, president of the NDWA. “We need to raise wages and offer benefits to this workforce.”