We need a Washington, DC Domestic Worker Bill of Rights!

Council Members of the City of Washington, DC

Domestic workers have always been essential, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear just how vital care work is to our city. Essential workers like domestic workers have been called heroes, yet they are treated as expendable: under-valued and under-paid. They are often among the first to lose income and last to receive support.

For too long, house cleaners, nannies and home attendants have worked without basic rights and protections in Washington, DC, because they have been excluded from civil rights and labor laws. This is inexcusable and inhumane and it must end.

We must protect those who have served on the frontlines of their pandemic, at great risk to themselves and their families, by providing care to our children, our elderly relatives and our loved ones with disabilities.

New York, California, Illinois, Nevada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Oregon and the cities of Seattle and Philadelphia have already passed protections for domestic workers. These policies ensure that home attendants, house cleaners, and nannies work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination and in a safe and healthy working environment. It’s time for Washington, DC to do the same.

Sponsored by

To: Council Members of the City of Washington, DC
From: [Your Name]

As employers and allies of domestic workers, we recognize the critical importance of the work performed by the house cleaners, nannies and care givers who work in our homes. Their work makes it possible for us to work and care for our loved ones. We write in support of the thousands of domestic workers in Washington, DC, and the need for legislation to guarantee workplace safety and freedom from abuses such as discrimination, harassment, retaliation when speaking up, and no benefits such as health insurance or time off.

We are deeply concerned that domestic workers are currently provided few workplace protections in Washington, DC or at the state or federal level. Historically, domestic workers were excluded from labor law protections in the U.S. since the New Deal, an exclusion that perpetuated post-slavery white supremacy when southern Congress members refused to sign the law if farm workers and domestic workers, the majority of whom were Black, were included. This vestige of slavery needs to be eliminated from our laws and society immediately.

We urge you to make a change in the unjust treatment of domestic workers by supporting legislation that will expand labor protections and raise workplace standards for nannies, house cleaners, and care givers. Following the example of eight states and two municipalities (Seattle and Philadelphia) that have passed Domestic Worker Bills of Rights, workers from the Washington, DC Domestic Worker Alliance are leading the way for a municipal-level Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. This bill will include critical protections for domestic workers.

Domestic workers enable us to go to our own workplaces with the peace of mind that our families and homes are safe and well cared for. As such, we want our employees to be treated with the dignity they deserve.

As employers and allies of domestic workers, we stand with these workers in support of the Washington, DC Domestic Worker Bill of Rights and call on you to pass this critical legislation.