Domestic Worker Activism in New York CityAlana Lee Glaser
The members of the Domestic Workers United (DWU) organization—immigrant women of color employed as nannies, caregivers, and housekeepers in New York City—formed to fight for dignity and respect and to “bring meaningful change” to their work. Alana Lee Glaser examines the process of how these domestic workers organized against precarity, isolation, and exploitation to help pass the 2010 New York State Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, the first labor law in the United States protecting in-home workers.
Solidarity & Care examines the political mobilization of diverse care workers who joined together and supported one another through education, protests, lobbying, and storytelling. Domestic work activists used narrative and emotional appeals to build a coalition of religious communities, employers of domestic workers, labor union members, and politicians to first pass and then to enforce the new law.
Through oral history interviews, as well as ethnographic observation during DWU meetings and protest actions, Glaser chronicles how these women fought (and continue to fight) to improve working conditions. She also illustrates how they endure racism, punitive immigration laws, on-the-job indignities, and unemployment that can result in eviction and food insecurity.
The lessons from Solidarity & Care along with the DWU’s precedent-setting legislative success have applications to workers across industries.
All royalties will go directly to the Domestic Workers United
“Solidarity & Care exemplifies the best of feminist research and scholarship. Emerging out of her long tenure volunteering with the worker-organizers of New York’s Domestic Workers United, Glaser’s organizational history centers the narratives of women workers around the unsustainable structure of the industry that motivated their legal campaigns and ultimately resulted in the passage of the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. Their frank insights enliven the work of organizing by compelling readers to not only listen to, but also stand with them.”
—Julietta Hua, Professor of Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University, and author of Trafficking Women’s Human Rights
“Solidarity & Care gives texture to the complexities of activism among domestic workers in New York. Alana Lee Glaser has elaborated on what we know about Domestic Workers United by giving voice to domestic workers of various cultures and showing readers not only how the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights was established, but how the fight for equal rights continued after it was passed. This vivid ethnography presents the desperate need for solidarity between community members, workers, and employers for better working conditions and a sense of communal citizenship.”
—Tamara Mose, Professor of Sociology and author of Raising Brooklyn: Nannies, Childcare, and Caribbeans Creating Community