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Photos courtesy of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Cover photo by Othello Banaci. 

Domestic Worker Justice

Domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are low income women of color and immigrant women, are employed in unregulated, unprotected workplaces that are often excluded from federal, state, and local labor protections. This means basic workplace protections such as minimum wage standards, overtime protections, and freedom from sexual harassment can sometimes exclude nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers working in private homes. These challenges are compounded by racism, gender discrimination, immigration status, language barriers, and poverty. As a result, PDWA members report widespread wage theft, sexual harassment and assault, dangerous working conditions, lack of benefits such as health insurance, and other workplace abuses. 


Across Pennsylvania, there are over 28,000 domestic workers, 91% of whom are women. In the Philadelphia area, there are over 16,000 domestic workers, 84% of whom are women with an annual salary of $10,100, according to a study conducted on PDWA's behalf by University of Pennsylvania sociology professor Pilar Gonalons-Pons. 


PDWA is fighting to right these historic wrongs by organizing not only to win inclusions into labor law, but also by raising workplace standards to guarantee fair wages, safe working conditions, and a unified voice on the job for domestic workers.  In eight states across the country, domestic workers have won Domestic Worker Bills of Rights to gain inclusion into labor law and raise workplace standards. Pennsylvania has now joined this movement, beginning with Philadelphia domestic workers fighting for a municipal-level Philadelphia Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. 


Domestic worker leaders at the National Domestic Workers Alliance 2018 National Convening.