DWU in the News

  • Labor Movement Changing the Way it Works
    Labor Movement Changing the Way it Works By: Chris Moore Posted on November 2nd, 2012 With the slow decline of traditional national unions that have been leaders in the labor movement for decades, a new breed of organization has taken up the vanguard. A group called Domestic Workers United (DWU), originally formed in Brooklyn in 2000, is organizing workers typically disenfranchised from unions like the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. Rather than shrinking, they are growing at a noteworthy rate. Helen Panagiotopoulos started working with DWU in 2010. She has almost 20 years of experience as a nanny, and much of her family in Greece worked in the domestic care industry. In the past two years, she says the number of members almost doubled from around 4,000 to over 7,000. In contrast, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 11.8 percent of the workforce was a…
    Written on Sunday, 04 November 2012 04:19
  • Many Employers Still Unaware of NY Nanny Law
    By JULIE WATSON and MICHAEL VIRTANEN Associated Press ALBANY, N.Y. September 28, 2012 (AP) Allison Julien worked for more than two decades as a nanny in New York, toiling 50 to 60 hours a week without overtime pay until the state enacted the nation's first bill of rights for domestic workers two years ago.Since then, the Barbados immigrant says her job has changed dramatically. She still dedicates long hours to caring for children in Brooklyn's upscale Park Slope neighborhood but she now has a written contract with the parents who hired her, guaranteeing overtime. She is also assured one day off a week and three paid personal days yearly.California could become the next state to adopt such legislation if the governor signs a similar bill in the next few days. Other states could follow, with efforts under way in Illinois, Washington, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Maryland for their own domestic worker…
    Written on Friday, 02 November 2012 13:26
  • When Nanny Ads Lie
    By SUMATHI REDDY The messages on the Bococa parent listserv come fast and furious, hundreds everyweek. Tips are traded, items offered up. Plushy skunk costume yours for $10Can I use uppababy g-luxe as my only stroller? FS: Elec breast pump (Great condition)And it's not just information and items for the kids. The list, which serves parents in the neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill and environs, is a sort of ask-it-all for thousands of members.Need a dishwasher repair person? You've come to the right place. Wood floors need refinishing? Fire away. Looking for a Mac "Genius" who makes house calls? Plenty of recommendations. But there is one category of posting—seemingly the most natural on a parent listserv—that was abruptly banned last month, eliciting fury from some: nanny recommendations."The announcement, it was sudden and it surprised me," said Melissa Holsinger, who found a nanny for her son on…
    Written on Friday, 02 November 2012 09:34
  • Domestic Workers Bill Killed In California By Jerry Brown Veto
    By Sarah Bufkin At 1 a.m., Patricia Aceberos drags herself out of bed to give a round of medication to her patient. Four hours later, the Fremont, Calif., caregiver is back up for the next dose, hoping that she can squeeze in just 50 more minutes of sleep before beginning a full day of cleaning, cooking and taking care of the elderly woman whom she considers "like a second mom."Aceberos works six days a week around the clock caring for a woman who suffers from dementia and a failed hip-replacement surgery that has left her unable to walk.Yet Aceberos doesn't receive any overtime pay. She says she never manages a full night of uninterrupted sleep. She eats what her client eats for every meal -- "lots of soup." She has thought about quitting, but she says affection for her patient keeps her around. Not to mention the need to support…
    Written on Friday, 02 November 2012 09:31
  • June 12, 2012 - The Nation: The Uphill Battle to Enforce Domestic Workers' Rights
    By Sharon Lerner In her 22 years of working as a nanny, Jennifer Bernard has seen her share of humiliations – 60-plus-hour weeks, low pay with no overtime, last-minute schedule changes. "Sometimes they'd call at the end of the day and say 'We have to have a late dinner,'" she says. Even when Bernard had her own young son at home, she felt like she couldn't say no.But that sense of powerlessness has all but vanished since the New York Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights went into effect in 2010. When Bernard was looking for a new job six months ago, the first time she had looked for work since the law passed, she felt able to make her limits and expectations clear. "I said I was not willing to do some kinds of housework," says Bernard, who's 56 and came to this country from Trinidad in 1990. "I said my…
    Written on Thursday, 14 June 2012 01:00
  • May 15, 2012 - Metro: Help Line for City's Nannies
    By ALISON BOWENThe city's nannies now have a new way to learn whether they're getting paid fairly.Domestic Workers United, a caregivers rights group, announced a hotline today with information on overtime for both nannies and employers.A 2010 state law requires parents to pay nannies overtime after 40 hours.But a study by Park Slope Parents, an online forum, found that 44 percent of Brooklyn parents do not pay time-and-a-half to their nannies after 40 hours, like the law requires. Just 16 percent reported that they pay more."The average worker's workweek is about 50 to 60 hours, and they're not getting overtime," said Priscilla Gonzalez at the Domestic Workers United.Nannies said conversations about pay can be delicate – sitters don't want to antagonize employers by declining an extra hour, even if the law backs them up."Since there's no written-out contract, sometimes if they're like, 'Can you do this extra hour,' I'll feel…
    Written on Friday, 18 May 2012 18:05
  • May 14, 2012 - NY Daily News: Worker's rights group says Park Slope moms stiffing their nannies on overtime
    By Lore Croghan AND Tracy Connor / NEW YORK DAILY NEWSThey're wealthy, socially conscious and obsessed with their kids — but many Park Slopers aren't following the law when it comes to their nannies.So says a worker's rights group, which is singling out the Brooklyn neighborhood for a re-education campaign on the domestic workers bill of rights.The state law, which says sitters are entitled to overtime and paid days off like most other full-time employees, took effect in 2010.But Domestic Workers United points out that a survey by Park Slope Parents shows 44% of families don't pay time and a half if their sitter works more than 40 hours a week."This is pretty serious," said Priscilla Gonzalez, executive director of the group, which will announce a hotline for workers at a press conference Tuesday.Although nearly half of families admitted in the anonymous survey that they skimped on the OT, it…
    Written on Friday, 18 May 2012 18:00
  • Help 'The Help"
    Richard Winsten and Deanne Braverman outline the case for the United States adopting the International Labor Organization Convention on Domestic Workers, ensuring that all domestic workers in the country would receive basic protections.
    Written on Thursday, 01 September 2011 00:00
  • "Cari Poppins: Why So Many Brooklyn Nannies Come From the Caribbean" NY Post
    "Cari Poppins: Why So Many Brooklyn Nannies Come from the Caribbean" By Tamara Mose Brown It’s a Brooklyn cliché as persistent as cupcake shops and stroller wars — parks full of children, many white, being cared for by nannies, many not. So how did so many women from the Caribbean — particularly Grenada, Trinidad, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Guyana — end up nurturing the children of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens? Caribbean migration to New York began in the late 19th century, when as many as 30,000 found their way to New York in search of opportunity and established a community. Over the next decades, immigration from the Caribbean increased to approximately 100,000 as the sugar industry declined further with little labor force and low capital flow... Click here to view the full article
    Written on Saturday, 22 January 2011 00:00
  • "Slavery in the Home and out in the Fields" RH Reality Check
    By Ivy Suriyopas The 250-year legacy of slavery continues to permeate throughout contemporary United States. However, these days, the images we see are likely to be those of immigrants from the global South. Instead of state-sanctioned ownership and exploitation of workers inside the home or out in the fields, today’s federal government and most state regimes have largely failed to prevent the abuses and mistreatment of household employees and agricultural laborers. Often described as “modern-day slavery,” human trafficking and exploitation are pervasive in domestic worker and farm worker industries. Trafficking in these industries is highly documented. According to a survey of domestic workers, the majority of live-in domestic workers work close to 60 hours per week, and almost 40 percent of domestic workers were not paid for their work or not paid on time. Meanwhile, almost 80 percent of farm workers are underpaid, and more than half of farm contractors…
    Written on Thursday, 13 January 2011 00:00
  • "Its the Law! Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Takes Effect" Ms. Foundation Blog
    Ms. Foundation for Women Nov. 30th, 2010 It's about time! As of November 29, 2010, nannies, housekeepers and other domestic workers in the State of New York will, at long last, be afforded the employment protections they deserve under the law.... Click Here for Full Article
    Written on Tuesday, 30 November 2010 00:00
  • "Time to Bargain, Say New York Domestic Workers
    Jenny Brown, Labor Notes October 28, 2010 Click Here for Full Story Domestic workers are specifically denied bargaining rights under New York state’s labor law, but childcare givers, housekeepers, and elder care workers gathered today in downtown Manhattan to begin a campaign to change that. Domestic Workers United, which has 4,000 members in the New York City area, scored a pioneering victory when the governor signed a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights into law August 31. The law, which will go into effect at the end of November, provides the approximately 200,000 domestic workers in New York state with protections that most workers take for granted, including overtime pay after 40 hours, workers compensation insurance, and a guaranteed day off each week. “We’re finally getting the recognition and respect we deserve,” said Brontie Scott, a nanny and DWU member. “But we have a really long way to go.” Most domestic…
    Written on Thursday, 28 October 2010 00:00
  • "The New Face of Labor" Crain's New York Business
    Daniel Massey The New Face of Labor Late last month, as Gov. David Paterson signed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights into law at a Harlem community center, Barbara Young, a nanny for 17 years, could barely contain her glee. “After so many years and so many people depending on us, we are now recognized as part of the work force,” the 62-year-old Barbados native recalls thinking. The signing marked the climax of a six-year campaign by Domestic Workers United to gain long-denied rights for nannies and housekeepers. But the 200,000 workers who stand to gain from the new law are not the only group whose prospects look brighter. Organizations that represent workers ranging from busboys to freelance writers are increasing their clout, winning rights for low-wage, immigrant and contingent workers who had for years fallen outside the scope of mainstream labor and its collective bargaining agreements.... Click Here For…
    Written on Sunday, 19 September 2010 00:00
  • "Domestic Workers Lead the Way to 21st Century Labor Rights" Colorlines
    Rinku Sen Colorlines This week, just in time for Labor Day weekend, New York Gov. David Paterson signed into law the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The new law, which takes effect in November, is a massive and unprecedented win for the new labor movement—and it is a model for the way organizers and lawmakers alike must begin to think about workers’ rights in the 21st century economy. The New York law requires overtime pay for nannies, housekeepers and home health aides, guarantees them weekly time off and subjects employers to state law for minimum-wage violations and sexual harassment. These are all basic rights that traditional, full-time employees have long enjoyed, but that a broad swath of workers who are not protected by labor laws have never seen. Last week, the California State Assembly passed a resolution recognizing similar labor standards for domestic workers, rights that lawmakers will likely codify…
    Written on Thursday, 02 September 2010 00:00
  • "Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Law Finally Grants Protection for Over 200,000 People
    By Albor Ruiz NY Daily News Good news, unfortunately, is all too infrequent these days. That's why the signing into law of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights - a definite piece of good news - is so uplifting. This bill will, for the first time, give the same protection other workers have to thousands of nannies, housekeepers, elder companions, cleaners, baby-sitters and cooks in private households in the state of New York. These are people who, although they spend much of their lives taking care of others, historically have been among the most exploited of society's laborers. Success took six years of meetings, lobbying and marching by laborers organized under Domestic Workers United, a nonprofit organization that spearheaded the efforts to approve this legislation, the first in the nation, to become law in New York State. Its signing on Tuesday by Gov. Paterson was a historic occasion. "The Domestic…
    Written on Thursday, 02 September 2010 00:00
  • "Domestic Workers Rejoice in Newly Won Rights in NYC" The Epoch Times
    By Andrea Hayley NEW YORK—Amid the tremendous emotion and heartfelt celebration of over 200 people at Harlem’s Dwyer Cultural Center Tuesday, Gov. Paterson signed the nation’s first Bill of Rights for domestic workers. The law corrects what the governor calls an historic injustice: when workers first gained the right to a minimum wage, among other basic rights, in 1937, farm and domestic workers were exempted because Southern Democrats who were needed to pass the law disagreed with paying minimum wage to the "hired help." “I wonder if President Roosevelt ever dreamed that it would take until 2010, 75 years until after he died, for there to be action taken by even one state on this issue,” said Gov. Paterson. There are 200,000 nannies, maids, and elderly caregivers in New York, who, until now, have worked in American homes while receiving no legal protection. The workers, most of whom are women…
    Written on Wednesday, 01 September 2010 00:00
  • Aug 31, 2010 - "Patterson Signs First Ever Domestic Workers Rights Bill" PBS
    By Sal Gentile New York Gov. David Paterson signed the nation’s first-ever law protecting the rights of domestic workers on Tuesday, offering guaranteed overtime and safeguards against discrimination and sexual harassment to a largely invisible workforce of over half a million. “Today we correct an historic injustice by granting those who care for the elderly, raise our children and clean our homes the same essential rights to which all workers should be entitled,” Paterson said. The bill, which has inspired a similar measure in California, extends the most far-reaching workplace protections in the nation to New York’s nannies and in-home workers. Those protections include a guarantee of overtime pay, three days of rest a year and the extension of disability benefits to domestic workers. Click here to view full article
    Written on Tuesday, 31 August 2010 00:00
  • Aug 31, 2010 - "Domestic Workers Make History in New York" Labor Notes
    Mark Brenner Domestic workers gathered at the foot of the Harriet Tubman memorial in Harlem today to celebrate New York’s groundbreaking domestic workers legislation, which the governor signed into law at a nearby community center. Deloris Wright told the crowd of fellow domestic workers, supporters, and reporters, “Today is about generations of domestic workers that came before and those who are still to come.” Wright is a member of Domestic Workers United (DWU), the organization that spearheaded the legislation. The new law guarantees domestic workers time-and-half pay after working more than 40 hours and ensures at least a day off each week. They will also be covered under the state’s worker compensation and anti-discrimination laws and gain access to unemployment insurance. The law mandates the state Department of Labor to study the feasibility of collective bargaining for domestic workers and report its findings by November.
    Written on Tuesday, 31 August 2010 00:00
  • "Paterson Signs Landmark Bill of Rights for Domestic Workers" NY1
    Reporting by: Bobby Cuza Domestic workers in New York are now guaranteed more rights than anywhere in the nation. Governor David Paterson signed the Domestic Workers' Rights bill into law Tuesday morning. It guarantees overtime pay, a minimum of one day off every seven days, three days of paid leave per year, and protections against sexual harassment and racial discrimination. The bill also mandates that a feasibility study be done to see if there is a possibility of these workers unionizing. The law covers the estimated 270,000 domestic workers – including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers – employed statewide, and is being hailed as a civil rights victory since the majority of the workers are not only women, but also women of color. "They are the structure and function of our society," Paterson said. "They have been the skeleton and underpinning of our success. They are the wind beneath our wings.…
    Written on Tuesday, 31 August 2010 00:00
  • "Domestic Workers in New York Win First-Ever Job Protections" Labor Notes
    Tiffany Ten Eyck Domestic workers in New York have won historic changes to the state’s labor law to include protections for their jobs. Final votes on Thursday ended weeks of wrangling between state Assembly and Senate leaders and Governor David Paterson, who said he would sign the bill. The law guarantees domestic workers time-and-half pay for more than 40 hours and a day off each week, along with protection under worker compensation and anti-discrimination law and access to unemployment insurance. The compromise bill won’t include original demands for paid sick and vacation days and advance notice of termination. But three paid days off were granted after a year of service. Click here to view full article
    Written on Friday, 02 July 2010 00:00

Video Archives

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Photo Galleries

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Audio Archives

 

Reports

Historically, little information has existed about domestic workers and the conditions in which they work. DWU is proud to have created and contributed to the scholarship about domestic work. Check out these reports that we have published with our partners about the NY domestic work industry: 

Domestic Workers Collective Bargaining

Download the Domestic Workers and Collective Bargaining (Full Report)

Download the Executive Summary

 


 

Home is Where the Wor kis

Download Home is Where the Work is (Full Report)

Download Executive Summary

 


 

valuingDomesticWork

Download Valuing Domestic Work

 


 

NYBoRsigning

Download Organizing with Love: Lessons from the NY Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Campaign

 

 

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