be fair to those who care

A friend emailed me this article from the NY Times today (read it quick before it goes behind the TimesSelect wall). I was very interested to read about the efforts of domestic workers in New York to make themselves eligible for the minimum wage, partly because I’ve been doing some research on this issue for work, and have been struck by just how unfair the national exemptions are on this issue. When Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (the law that created the right to join a union) in 1935, they made two major groups of blue-collar workers exempt from the bill–farmworkers and domestic workers.

Since that time, there have been some interesting campaigns to rectify that situation, notably the UFW’s grape boycott and march from Delano to Sacramento in 1966, which led ultimately to the passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act. The CLRA gave farmworkers in California the right to join a union, and since then a few other states have legislated similar rights for farmworkers, but I don’t think there is any state where domestic workers–other than home health caregivers–have the right to join a union or collectively bargain.

On a related note, today’s Health Care Blog is written by Mary Kay Henry from the Service Employees’ International Union, talking about her union’s efforts to help solve the nation’s care crisis by improving the situations of home care workers. It seems unconscionable to me that we could be in a place, still, as a nation where caregivers are seen as second-class citizens, who don’t deserve the same legal protections as other workers do.

Edited to include: Blog for Domestic Workers’ Rights on June 5th, which I saved to and then forgot about. Drat! Thanks, saltyfemme.


June 1, 2007. politically motivated, work.


  1. Jackie replied:

    Denying domestic workers minimum wage rights and other worker rights is part of the ever-prevalent female face of poverty in this country.

    You know who I Blame, right?

  2. saltyfemme replied:

    Blog for domestic workers on June 5th! Click here for details:

  3. Jody replied:

    Here’s a tiny URL to an RSS feed that will never disappear behind the select wall:

    [To make almost all NYT articles into RSS feeds, go to and follow their easy directions. It doesn’t work on anything that’s already select, though, so I always have a little file of RSS feeds for articles I never actually end up blogging.]

    I’m right there with Jackie when it comes to the blaming.

  4. Comfort Addict replied:

    I see no logical reason why domestic and farm workers should not have the right to organize. It sounds suspiciously like a protection scheme for rich people and big agribusiness.

    Perhaps this is the time we could actually get Congressional Republicans and the President to join Democrats to remedy this injustice. They’d probably be so thrilled that it wasn’t a bill about Iraq that they’d pass it before they knew what hit them.

  5. EuroYank replied:

    It amazes me how little Americans care about issues like minimum wage. Americans at the drop of a hat will spend 100s of billions on the Military yearly, and hundreds of billions on wars against third world countries, and hundreds of billions on tax reductions for the richest two percent, but when it comes to the most needy, and working poor, Americans will treat their people like dogs!

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