Domestic Workers Fight for Their Rights

TheThe National Domestic Workers Alliance sent 1,000 sponges to Governor Jerry Brown in Oakland, California, calling for him to clean up his act after bowing to pressures from big business and the Chamber of Commerce to veto the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. PHOTO: National Domestic Workers alliance

PHOTO: National Domestic Workers Alliance

Photo: National Domestic Workers AlliancePHOTO: National Domestic Workers Alliance

A kid speaks for the rights of domestic workers at an August 2012 rally in Sacramento, CA.
A kid speaks for the rights of domestic workers at an August 2012 rally in Sacramento, CA. PHOTO: CA Domestic Workers

Photo: CA Domestic WorkersPHOTO: CA Domestic Workers

Photo: CA Domestic Workers
PHOTO: CA Domestic Workers


Domestic workers in New York won their bill of rights in 2010 but nannies, housekeepers and elder caregivers around the United States are still fighting for basic labor rights. Allison Julien, a nanny and organizer for Domestic Workers United and Rachel McCullough, a domestic workers advocate, spoke with IndyKids reporters about why domestic workers need help.

Many domestic workers are verbally, mentally and physically abused, working long hours for low pay. Sometimes, they are given very little time off.

Originally from Barbados, Julien worked as a nanny in New York for more than 20 years. “When I got the flu from children I take care of, I took two days off,” said Julien. “But my employers said, ‘why did you take those days off?’ And they refused to pay me.”

The New York Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights gave some rights to the workers. It established an eight-hour work day as a legal day’s work. Workers are allowed one day of rest per week. After one year of employment, workers are entitled to three paid days off.

Advocates are trying to pass bill of rights laws in other states and further improve the law in New York.

In California, a bill was almost passed but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it on September 30, 2012.

Jennifer Barrera, who works for California’s Chamber of Commerce, protested the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. As she told the Huffington Post, the domestic workers’ bill would have put a “burden onto working families who are struggling, I’m sure, to already afford a nanny.”

McCullough, an organizer for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and who was cared for by a loving nanny as child, disagrees. She said, “I think that the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights provides very necessary minimum standards. For the first time ever, the bill recognized this work as real and valuable work. I think that’s a pretty big deal!”

Kids have been helping by joining organizations and even advocating for their own babysitters.

“I don’t think it’s fair that some babysitters aren’t treated fairly,” Donna Schneiderman, a girl who had a babysitter for 10 years, said in a testimony. “I think it’s important for kids to know about domestic workers’ rights because a lot of the kids I know have babysitters and they should be aware of how some babysitters are being treated.”

What Kids Can Do to Help Support the Domestic Worker Campaign:

By Zipporah Cruz age 10

Kids can help domestic workers by writing to their local congressmen directly, asking them to help support the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in their state. Another way kids can help is by par- ticipating in the annual “A Wish for the Holidays” letter writing campaign, spearheaded by the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Their goal this year is to send 20,000 letters to congress asking for them to support laws that help protect the rights of domestic workers. Kids can also join #BeTheHelp, a national campaign started on Twitter to show support for domestic workers’ rights. Also, talk to your friends and teachers to help spread the word about supporting the rights of domestic workers.

For more information and ideas you can go to

PHOTO: Flickr/Confetti
PHOTO: Flickr/Confetti

‘New Day New Standard’ is a public art and interactive hotline created by REV and Domestic Workers United that informs nannies, housekeepers, elder caregivers and their employers about the landmark Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, passed in New York State in November 2010.“‘New Day New Standard’ is a public art and interactive hotline created by REV and Domestic Workers United that informs nannies, housekeepers, elder caregivers and their employers about the landmark Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, passed in New York State in November 2010.


60 thoughts on “Domestic Workers Fight for Their Rights”

  1. I think the article was interesting, and I never would have thought of baby sitters making a stand because I didn’t think they were treated badly.

  2. I never saw that because my baby-sitter is like family to me. My parents, siblings, and I all treat her as she should be treated. I think it’s very sad that nanny’s or baby-sitter’s are treated like this. I think this issue should be stopped and baby-sitter’s should have rights.

  3. I thought that this was a very interesting article, I never would have thought that some babysitters are treated unfairly. I never thought about this because my family has always had a babysitter and we have treated him/her fairly.

  4. I liked the article a lot and I thought that it was a great length. It was very Interesting too because it taught us about new things.

  5. I think this article was written very well, lots of detail, and I think that babysitters should be treated better, and payed more.

  6. This was a very good, well written article. I see both perspectives but I agree that care-givers or nannies need to be treated better. A lot of nannies spend more time with the children than the parents, so they should be paid and treated well by the parents for helping them raise and take care of their children. Many nannies are the ones who take care of the children when their sick, and its ridiculous for them to not be paid when they stay home because they caught the children’s sickness.

  7. This is a very well written article. I understand both sides of the story, the nanny/ caregiver is upset because she doesn’t get paid as much as she works . Than there is the family which is upset because the nanny won’t come in because she is sick, and the family has to stay home with there kid. In the article I liked how kids take the stand for there baby-sitters or there mothers.

  8. I really enjoyed this article. I was really surprised about all the rights/ no rights all the domestic workers had. This was a really well written article for a 10 and 9 years old.

  9. I thought this article was very informational. I did not know any of this. It is a very good article for me because I used to have a nanny and to know all of this means a lot to me. She was the best thing for me.

  10. I had no idea that nannies should only be working 8 hours a day and 6 days a week. My sitter works for 10 hours a day, but she’s happy.

  11. I thought this article brought up a problem that is important for people to know, and I think it did a great job. It states all the information and I think its an important issue to talk about and this article really shows the whole story.

  12. Today I learned something that had never even crosssed my mind, I really wasn’t aware of this issue. I always thought, oh cool you have a babysitter?, I always wanted a babysitter. But I really want to look into this issue further and read more about it. I’m glad I read this article so that next time when we talk about “oh! you have a babysitter?” Nextime I can bring up this issue and us kids can really talk about it.

    I thought this article was very interesting and very informative and I want more people to read this. It was clearly stated and it was written in a way that, any adult or even an 11 year old could read it. It was very well done, and it definitely got MY attention.

  13. Wow, I had no idea that this was such a big issue in America. What do people have against this cause? This article presents the problem well, including pictures and specific cases where someone has not been given what they deserve. I had never heard of this, because I didn’t know people working as babysitters and housekeepers still don’t have all the rights that they need.

  14. 2-5-13

    I think this article shows very cleary the unappreciated help of this country. I think that people take babysitters, housecleaners, and less fortunate people that have to work jobs like this to have an income.
    I think that this article really got people going onto Domestic workers in America.
    This type of issue never really occurred to me and I always wanted to have a babysitter.. But we never really got one because my older brother (Who is only three years older than me) could take care of us. But a few times we got a baby sitter. We have had a cleaning lady come to our house like every other wednesday, and I grew to get to know her and care about her, but then she had to quit. This articleabout this issue makes me want to get into these kinds of things, and learn more about these problems. It makes me want to help.

  15. I think that it’s important to respect everybody in this world and treat them all equally. If babysitters, nanies, and house keepers don’t get day offs, work twelve hours a day, and don’t get paid enough than they have to tell this organization so they can help the nanies.

  16. I haven’t heard that domestic workers are treated soo badly. I think that it is a great article to tell people of all ages about how domestic workers are treated. I think this article was very well written and had this feeling that made me want to help.

  17. 2/6/13
    This article was very interesting, and brought to my attention how poorly domestic workers are treated. I never knew how poorly these people have been treated, and like I said before this really told me about what they are fighting for, and how they have been treated. If I didn’t read this article before, I don’t think I would have known about his fight, and how poorly some people have been treated. This is very well written, and I couldn’t have written it better. Good look to those people!

  18. I thought this article was very informative, I did not know domestic worker,(care givers or babysitters) were treated like this. Its horrible how the employers would take advantage like that. Thank god for the domestic bill of rights.

    I love my babysitter, shes like a bestfriend. I wouldn’t let anything happen to her.

  19. I did not know this was going on. It might be because I live in New York were there is a law, but isn’t very enforced. This is another example of counter narrative (domestic people) and master narrative (media)
    I have a nanny that my family treats like family. I find it almost impossible to think about my nanny being treated so awfully.

  20. Hi IndyKids! You will be receiving about 65 comments on this article from my class today. I think this article is very important for my students especially because a number of them have nannies and domestic workers in their homes. They may actually be able to advocate for their nannies and put pressure on their parents if they notice mistreatment.

    I really liked that you included kids who are standing up for workers’ rights in the article. This is great!

  21. Before I read this article, I didn’t know anything about the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights. I didn’t know that there wasn’t already something that was protecting babysitters, housekeepers, etc. I knew that some people weren’t treated fairly but I also thought that they were supposed to be treated fairly. I thought that there must have been a law or rights that would help these people who need rights too.

    I still have a babysitter because I have a younger brother. Our babysitter doesn’t watch us more than a few hours so it’s weird to think how some babysitters and being treated very differently. This article definitely helped me understand more about this subject and made me want to know even more about it.

  22. This article is very interesting and informative. I had no idea of the kind of struggle some domestic workers go through, and knowing this now surprises me. I think that it is important that kids get involved in the movement and help to pass the bill because the kids are the ones who know their nannies or babysitters and the ones who spend time with them. It is also very important that the bill is passed in California because it is the most populous state and many times, babysitters are needed, especially when both parents have jobs. Babysitters provide care and another loving person to be with, and if they aren’t payed fairly soon, then babysitters would keep protesting and young kids wouldn’t have anyone to take care of them during the day.

  23. I think that the article was interesting and highly informational about domestic workers fighting for their rights. Until now, I did not pay attention to what my housekeeper thought. Now I understand that they need appreciation too for cleaning our houses and taking care of children.

  24. I thought that this article was very interesting and I didn’t know about all of those struggling nannies,babysitters,and other people. I also dont think that it is fair that some people aren’t treated fairly and not paid well.

  25. I thought it was really interesting how the nannies took a stand for what they believed in. They were really committed and that sends a strong message to readers/viewers who want to know more about this. I thought it was interesting also how at the beginning of the article it talked about a nanny getting the flu from one of the children. It wasn’t very cool that the mother of the child got so mad at the nanny. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this article.

  26. I thought this was a very well put article so we could see what other workers sow anyhow they dealer with their very day life at work and how they talked about the baby sitters. I give this article a thumbs up.

  27. I think it is bad that domestic workers are being treated this way. Babysitters should be treated much better for providing a much needed service to the community. I don’t see why people would be mean to the person helping them take care of their children. I believe the advocators are doing the right thing.

  28. I really liked this article. It gave me a lot of information on domestic workers and their rights. I liked how the article gave me comics and pictures to show me what the domestic workers are really going through.

  29. I think this article is very interesting. I was unaware that so many domestic workers are treated unfairly. I think it’s great that kids are taking a stand and supporting their baby-sitters. I’m in support of these rights and I think that everyone should be treated fairly no matter what job they have.

  30. It is stunning that Governor Jerry Brown would refuse to let a good bill like that go through. In politics that would be a good deal because you would get more public appeal. Kids should help and I personally think that the tag #BeTheHelp would be the easiest way to spread the word to the world.

  31. I really like how this article actually says that there is a way for kids to help… no matter the age.
    The pictures that were included in the article showed a number of different faces. Maybe more that others but I like that it shows that more than one kind of person is facing this problem. I also really like how the article was not to short and not to long. It was nice in length and it cut straight to the point.

  32. This article is very informing. I did not know about this topic. I did not know that domestic workers did not have rights.I did not even know there was a bill of rights for domestic workers. This article is very informing and I would like to read mor on this topic.

  33. I like how this program is giving a chance for kids to help. I also like seeing the pictures of the nannies with their kids protesting and helping them to. I didn’t know about this and I am interested now. I liked how this article got to the point about what they wanted to say quickly.

  34. I didn’t know that much about domestic abuse – now I do.
    I didn’t know that they are just fighting for BASIC rights.

  35. I thought this article was very interesting. I did not know this was a problem. I think Domestic Workers should have a union so they get payed enough and have comfortable hours.

  36. I really enjoyed the way the article was written. It was very persuasive and informational. I think this was a human interest article.

  37. I liked this article because it showed that kids really care about there house help and know that they do so much for so little.

  38. I didn’t really know that domestic workers were treated like this, but now I do. I have a babysitter who takes care of my little siblings, but I didn’t know that babysitters and nannies and house cleaners were treated so poorly! It makes me wonder why a law for domestic workers’ rights would be vetoed! Thanks for letting me know!

  39. I think that this is very interesting because I would never think that nannys were being badly treated because my babysitter is treated very well by my family and that other families or people are not the same way

  40. I really liked this article, because a lot of kids have nanny’s, house keepers and sometimes don’t realize how much they do for us, so when you read this article it might make you want to change the way you act.

  41. I didn’t know that babysitters, and nannies were getting treated poorly and I think it was interesting that kids can help.

  42. I think it was very interesting because I never new that babysitters were being treated unfairly. I also thought that is was very interesting that a ten year old is trying to rights for other domestic workers.

  43. I never knew that domestic workers were treated like this, until I read this article. All of the babysitters I’ve had or met, seemed like they were treated fairly. I thought this article was interesting to read, and it made me aware of a new issue that I never knew about.

  44. I liked how the article explains how nannies, cleaning ladies, and housekeepers would like to have more rights. I have a cleaning lady at my home once a week and she has to work almost the entire day.

  45. I did not know that domestic workers were being abused in this way. Such as not giving domestic workers days off or hiring workers that they know are not citizens.I also agree with this article and think it is and important law to pass. Finally I think that it is amazing that children are standing up for there babysitters and housekeepers.

  46. I thought that this article was really interesting. I have a nanny at home, and this made me think of her. It also reminded me of the movie “The Help” and that really showed how hard a nannies job can be. But I do think that nannies love their children. Sometimes the only reason the nanny doesn’t quit is because of the children, so I really liked the little paragraph by Zipporah.

  47. I thought that domestic workers rights is a very important topic. We shouldn’t take advantage of them and make domestic workers work long hours with little pay. I am in support of domestic workers and I feel bad for them.

  48. I never knew about this issue. I never even thought about how these workers were treated, because their voices are silenced. I like Jennifer Barrera’s point of view about how it shouldn’t go all out, because it will make working class family worry more about. I also think that there does have to be a change in how these workers are treated.

  49. I think it is really interesting what some kids are doing for their nannies and how people on both sides of the story are fighting very much.

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