Governor Patrick Signs Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

Making Change with Resilience, Strength, Love and Power

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.

For us at MataHari, the day began with excitement as we prepared for the signing. We were so proud to see our members Angella Foster and Gloria Uribe speak during the signing and press conference. After four long years, it was incredibly powerful to see the strength and hear the words of women who had and will continue to fight for their rights.

Angella spoke beautifully about the significant role nannies play in the lives of the children they look after.

"They grow up knowing that they can do anything," she said. "We teach them to play peekaboo and to identify their eyes, ears, nose, and their belly buttons. They learn to be nurturing because they were nurtured.

Watching Angella and Gloria speak was breathtaking. As leaders, both Gloria and Angella stepped up in huge ways by sharing their experiences. It was only a couple months ago when both leaders joined MataHari, but the way they owned the moment made the longevity of this fight for respect and dignity clear.

It is hard to describe the feeling of excitement and pride felt in the room. It was not long ago that domestic workers were purposefully and completely excluded from any form of labor protection. That knowledge made the day an humbling experience. Women who fought for not only their livelihood, but for that of so many workers in Massachusetts, smiled and cheered together. In that moment, there was no way of forgetting that we are in fact standing on the shoulders of giants. Women who fought and sacrificed, so that we could stand in that room, witness and ultimately make history.

Though Governor Patrick's signature marked a clear win for our campaign, it was not the end to our journey. The Massachusetts bill is the most progressive in the country, but it remains insufficient compared to the extent of the violence and exploitation domestic workers still face. For workers and organizers, the bill is an attempt to build a base from which to continue on in the fight for protections and rights.