One-quarter of domestic workers are paid below the minimum wage, according to a national survey — with the average annual pay for all being just above $17,000. Few workers receive overtime. In Manhattan, health care and personal care are among the lowest paid occupations; only food preparers and servers do worse. (If you take care of machinery instead of human beings you earn twice as much.) Moreover, most domestic workers lack the basic job protections that Americans in other professions take for granted: contracts, sick leave, vacation days, matched contributions to Social Security, retirement benefits.
Today, however, Juarez knows her rights well (and, yes, in Massachusetts she is entitled to overtime pay). In fact, she and colleagues like Angela Foster — a veteran nanny who discovered the domestic workers movement two years ago at a workshop during National Nanny Recognition Week (mark it: the fourth week in September) — now regularly conduct training sessions to teach others about their rights.
They work as member leaders with an organization called Matahari: Eye of the Day, (matahari, in Malay, means sun). The group is part of the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers, which successfully lobbied for passage of a domestic workers’ bill of rights. Juarez had grown so emboldened that she successfully lobbied her own city, Lynn, Mass., to adopt a resolution in support of that bill of rights. “For me this experience has been marvelous,” she added. “I’m helping others to know about the law, and to lose their fear.”Read More
On Wednesday July 2, 2014 Governor Deval Patrick recognized approximately 60,000 domestic workers by signing the Massachusetts Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.
“This is your bill. And this is what happens when you show up in your house and make a claim on your government," he said to the crowd.
The ceremony, took place at the Grand Staircase of the Massachusetts State House in front of a crowd of proud supporters, which included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Attorney General Martha Coakley along with many of the dedicated domestic workers of the Commonwealth.
The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights promises to provide basic labor rights to all domestic workers such as the right to a written agreement, compensation for extra-hours, privacy and protection against human trafficking and sexual harassment. Under the new law, both documented and undocumented workers can enjoy the liberty to work without fear of being treated unfairly.Read More