NDWA Worker Newsletter
Fall 2023

Happy Fall! 🍂🍃As the weather gets cooler and the leaves change color, we welcome the beautiful and colorful days of autumn. This season gives us the opportunity to reflect on the changes in our lives and celebrate our achievements. However, it’s also important to recognize the ongoing struggles in our fight for more rights as domestic workers. We’ve experienced both exciting victories and losses over the last few months, which you can read about in the updates below. 

Read below to see what we’ve been up to and how to get involved.

Here’s what’s included in this newsletter:

Stay in the loop

Please continue to keep an eye on your texts for ways to be in the community, get the latest information on our work, and find out how you can be involved. If you’re not already on our broadcast text list, you can join by texting WORKERS to 33843 to get the latest information on our work and receive event and online meeting invites. And please invite all your domestic worker friends to join the text list as well.

NDWA Leads and Learns at the 4th Congress of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF)

Delegates celebrating Delegates celebrating

“Solidarity forever” echoed through the halls at the International Domestic Workers Federation’s 4th Congress, as domestic worker delegates from around the world convened to strategize and elect new leadership for this powerful federation of 88 organizations and unions, representing more than 670,000 domestic workers in 68 countries. 

NDWA was represented at the Congress by June Barrett of Miami Workers Center, who was elected earlier this year by NDWA affiliates and chapters to represent North America on the IDWF Executive Committee (ExCo); Yaquelín Lopez of Women Working Together, the runner-up in that same election; and Antonia Peña, former IDWF ExCo member and current co-Director of the NDWA Washington DC-Maryland-Virginia Chapter. 

The Congress is IDWF’s highest decision-making body. From October 2-5 in De Haan, Belgium, delegates debated and voted on constitutional amendments and resolutions that will shape the federation’s priorities. Panelists shared lessons learned from winning rights in the informal economy, securing government investment in care, and organizing for migrant domestic worker justice. The delegates elected IDWF’s next General Secretary, President, Vice President and Second Vice President  – including June Barrett, who will serve as Second Vice President for the coming five years. Addressing the Congress, June pledged, “I will work to unite our federation, and I will fight for our collective liberation. I know our sector inside and out, and I will do my best to ensure that our demands are heard at the highest level.”

NDWA is proud to be a founding IDWF member and continues to lead and learn in the federation. Yaquelín Lopez shares, “IDWF shows that migrant domestic workers are making an impact around the world,” and Antonia Peña reflects, “When domestic workers in other regions win, we all advance toward a global vision for our sector. Our organizing here in the U.S. is stronger because of the inspiration we gain from our sister organizations in IDWF. Sí se puede!”

NDWA delegates and observers NDWA delegates and observers

We Dream in Black Organizing Institute

The We Dream in Black (WeDiB) Organizing Institute is an annual gathering hosted by NDWA, dedicated to celebrating and empowering Black domestic workers across the Diaspora. This event is a platform for sharing stories, recognizing accomplishments, collective learning, highlighting leadership, promoting healing, and deepening skills for growing our movement and organizing to win.

Three women posing against WeDiB backdrop.
Two women smiling for the camera.

This year’s event theme, “The Power Within to Transform Domestic Work,” draws inspiration from WeDiB’s 2020 Unbossed Black Domestic Worker agenda. The Institute revolved around WeDiB’s core organizing principle: Transforming Domestic Work. WeDiB advocates for protecting domestic workers from abusive workplace conditions and realizing their rights, including fair wages and comprehensive labor rights.

In 2023, the Organizing Institute took place in Atlanta, GA. On October 14th, approximately 100 people participated in virtual workshops like Recognizing Violations in the Workplace, Workforce Development for Domestic Workers, and Civic Engagement for Domestic Workers. 60 WeDiB chapter members also attended the event in person. Attendees gained valuable insights into transforming their workplaces and, at the same time, contributed to building a stronger community.

Group photo against WeDiB backdrop.
Two people smiling, sitting at table.

Several WeDiB members smiling.

As NDWA’s initiative that centers the voices and experiences of Black, Afro-Latina and Afro-descendant domestic workers, WeDiB holds programming all year long! If you are a Black domestic worker who would like to receive messages about WeDiB activities, text ‘black worker’ to 33843.

National Domestic Worker Programming

Domestic workers from our Chapters and beyond participated in monthly all-alliance zoom calls to deepen our skills, connect with each other and take action in support of our campaigns. On these calls over the past several months, we’ve learned about the history of our Bill of Rights campaigns, gained skills for calling our members of Congress to demand more government investment in care, connected with important resources for getting tax refunds, learning about immigrant rights and more. And we’ve celebrated our collective accomplishments! ALL domestic workers are invited to these calls, including those in places where there is no NDWA Chapter to join. If you’re not already on our broadcast text list, be sure to text WORKERS to 33843 so you’ll receive invitations to our monthly calls.

Updates from NDWA’s Local Chapters

DMV Chapter

This summer and fall, the DC, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) Chapter of NDWA held several important workshops for our members — one focused on learning more about systems of oppression and how they impact our lives and work as domestic workers, another about goal setting for success, and a third to teach self defense skills.

Gladys Sandoval, a member of the DMV Chapter, spoke at a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill about the need to pass a federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to ensure domestic workers can be safe on the job. Another chapter member, Lourdes Ferrufino, spoke at a listening session with the federal Department of Labor to share why a written contract between domestic workers and their employers is an important tool to help domestic workers achieve fair working conditions.

On October 1, 2023, the DC Domestic Workers Bill of Rights that we fought so hard for and won last December officially went into effect! To celebrate, we visited members of the DC Council and their staff to make sure they know about their important law and to ask them to make sure the agencies responsible for implementing the law do so in a way that is quick, efficient, and accessible to domestic workers in the community.

If you’re a domestic worker in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia and want to get in touch with the chapter, sign up here!

Pennsylvania Chapter

The Pennsylvania (PA) Chapter celebrated our 5th anniversary this August and has been very busy! We are organizing hard on our new legislative campaign to win anti-retaliation protections, improve labor enforcement, and fully fund the Philadelphia Department of Labor; we’re partnering with other labor justice, community organizations, and legal service partners; we have 4 Councilmember sponsors and are excited to introduce our legislation in City Hall in early 2024.

We graduated a new class of member leaders from the Organize, Lead, and Amplify (OLA) paid worker leader program, who worked and learned 10 hours a week for 12 weeks. In addition to our monthly multilingual all-membership meetings, we also have monthly We Dream in Black meetings and a quickly growing WeDiB membership.

Lastly, in September, 50 domestic workers marched in the Labor Day parade for the first time in Philly history. They met both President Biden and Emmy-award-winning actor Sheryl Lee Ralph, both of whom gave their support.

If you’re a domestic worker in the Philadelphia area and want to get in touch with the chapter, sign up here!

New York Chapter

The NY Chapter has been busy this late summer and fall! 

Our We Dream in Black chapter hosted a leaders retreat in Central Park with over 60 WeDiB members. They had picnic blanket discussions, Know Your Rights picnic games, and strategy talks about outreach and how to grow our membership. 

The NY Chapter hosted an in-person sector committee meeting at the NY office to celebrate Nanny Appreciation Week. Worker leaders hosted a Q/A with the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, had a worker-led resource table, and break out sessions to discuss sector-based campaigns. We had a full house.

Our enforcement program hosted three different Know Your Rights workshops and has been doing solid outreach to refer workers to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Worker Rights mediation clinic as an alternative venue for bringing forward domestic worker complaints. 

Our workforce development program is hosting an in-person nanny training and house cleaner worker safety training to round out the fall!

If you’re a domestic worker in New York and want to get in touch with the chapter, sign up here!

North Carolina Chapter

The NC Chapter has been hard at work on our home care and child care campaigns, fighting for investment in care and care worker wages in the state budget, and growing our member leaders’ skills to win these fights through engaging programming.

We just wrapped a 2-month membership blitz where we met around 200 new domestic workers and supporters, and gained 23 new members. At the end of September, we held a day-long worker academy to set us up strong for our October month of events honoring and celebrating the legacy of Dorothy Bolden.

We studied the root cause of labor injustice through an intersectional lens, new members learned organizing basics, longtime leaders got to practice advanced organizing skills and campaign building, and we learned media literacy skills to fight misinformation. 

If you’re a domestic worker in North Carolina and want to get in touch with the chapter, sign up here!

Houston Chapter

The Houston Chapter is on the move in our third year of existence.

Coming off the heels of our first Care Worker Power Day at the state capitol over the summer, we followed up by having worker leaders participate in a press conference to reveal the findings of a wage theft study conducted by Rutgers University and the Workers Defense Project. We learned from the study that domestic workers experience higher occurrences of wage theft than any other sector. While this information is not new, the study provides deeper insight into this issue. 

The Houston chapter is launching a wage theft and misclassification campaign to identify homecare agencies with a pattern of these workplace violations. This campaign will coincide with our Dororthy Bolden acknowledgment process in Harris County. We are working to raise visibility and standards while amplifying care workers’ voices and stories. 

Houston Chapter, along with NDWA affiliates in Texas, will be hosting a Care Worker Summit on December 2nd in Houston, Texas. This will be an opportunity for care workers and staff from the chapter and affiliate organizations to do strategic planning, create a collaborative statewide agenda around care worker issues, share about the work we are doing and build relationships. Looking ahead to the next Care Worker Power at the Texas Legislature, we want to return in 2025 with care worker priorities at the forefront. 

If you’re a domestic worker in the Houston area and want to get in touch with the chapter, sign up here!

New Jersey

The New Jersey Domestic Workers Coalition has been actively campaigning this fall to pass the New Jersey Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. As part of our efforts, the coalition organized a workers’ delegation to Senator Nicholas Scutari’s office, the New Jersey Senate President, to demand that the bill be passed this year. The coalition also met with the Speaker of the Assembly, Craig Coughlin. Claudia Herrera, a home care worker and NDWA leader, spoke about the precarious conditions domestic workers face in NJ and the urgency of passing the New Jersey Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Finally, the coalition met with the office of the chairman, Senator Paul Sarlo, of the Budget and Appropriation Committee. On Monday, October 4, 2023, coalition members sat with the senate president’s office to articulate the importance of passing the Bill.

Our coalition has garnered the backing of over 106 organizations, with the NJ Domestic Workers Bill of Rights emerging as the primary legislative focus for 12 organizations. These organizations include NDWA affiliates, NJ Immigration Coalition, Latino Action Fund, NJ Citizen Action, Make the Road, and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

If you want to take action around the New Jersey Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, sign up here!

Georgia Chapter

The Georgia Chapter has been doing hybrid monthly meetings virtually and in-person. We recently wrapped up a robust voter registration season, registering hundreds of voters, and also did a lot of voter education. Doing civic engagement tabling at the transit station and community events allowed us to build trust with people, where our voter registration canvassers not only registered voters but collected more than 150 pledges to vote.

We recently wrapped up our first extended base-building fellowship with 6 fellows who worked 20 hours a week for 6 months. We held a membership blitz collecting over 250 new contacts and 26 new members. We are gearing up for our first campaign next year to get local dedicated funds to certify new CNAs and help homecare workers maintain their credentials.

We held a political education and storytelling workshop on domestic workers’ history, partnering with Story Corp at the Atlanta History Museum. Members got an opportunity to share and archive their own stories, which will be housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. We are currently hosting a series of workshops facilitated by Dr. Osizwe Raena Harwell on topics like self-care and improving interpersonal communication.

On October 13th, we obtained proclamations to recognize Dorothy Bolden Day and Domestic Workers Day in Atlanta, Fort Valley, and Macon. That Friday we also hosted the Care Cookout, a kickoff event for the We Dream In Black National Organizing Institute. Our members also participated in the Dorothy Bolden Mural Tour, celebrating her 99th birthday. 

If you’re a domestic worker in Georgia and want to get in touch with the chapter, sign up here!

South Bay Chapter

The South Bay NDWA Chapter has continued our monthly member meetings, standing together in unity these past few months. 

Our primary focus has been on the statewide campaign SB 686, the Health and Safety for All Workers Act. With great determination and as part of the California Domestic Workers Coalition, our members and leaders joined their collective voice to address the historical injustices against domestic workers rooted in racism and exclusion. Despite facing a disappointing second veto by the governor of California, we remain undeterred. In the coming weeks, we plan to take our message directly to the source by holding press conferences in front of the California OSHA offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

As we move forward, we are proud to be in the fourth week of our 6-week leadership development program, where 11 dedicated domestic workers actively share vital information and education with their peers. So far, our outreach efforts have touched the lives of 100 workers, and we’ve brought forth 9 cases for our legal services partner to assess and support. As we transition into the fall, our enthusiasm remains unwavering. We eagerly anticipate the graduation of our South Bay Chapter domestic worker leaders of 2023, as we continue our pursuit of fair treatment for all domestic workers in California!

If you’re a domestic worker in San Jose or San Mateo county and want to get in touch with the chapter, sign up here!

Become a dues-paying NDWA member!

At our monthly Member Orientation and Information calls, we’ve had informative presentations from our benefits partners likeTrust Plus, which offers financial counseling to NDWA members, helping us achieve financial health through budgeting, savings plans, and learning more about banking and other financial tools. Our partners at Union Plus walked us through how to access our health-related and “everyday discount” benefits. If you’re a dues-paying member and you have questions about these or any other of your member benefits, send us an email at [email protected]. And keep an eye out for invitations to other member-only meetings and events!  

Interested in becoming a member? Membership costs $5 per month or $60 per year. Your membership dues will support our organizing to make domestic work good work. In addition, dues-paying members have access to benefits like life insurance, financial counseling, discounts on vision and dental services, movie and entertainment deals — and more! Now more than ever, domestic workers need each other. Together, we are building a world where your work will be recognized and valued. JOIN NOW!