After a long journey toward justice, Washington DC’s domestic workers scored a major victory yesterday when the DC City Council voted unanimously to enact a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. Until now, domestic workers – maids, nannies, au pairs, and many home health aides – were excluded from employment law protections that most workers take for granted. Now the District has joined several other cities and states in passing a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.
The legislation, known as the DC Domestic Workers Employment Rights Amendment Act, was announced in March. The legislation extends the protection of DC’s Human Rights law (which addresses both discrimination and sexual harassment) and its Occupational Safety and Health law to cover domestic workers. It further entitles domestic workers to a written contract explaining terms and conditions of employment.
The Catholic Labor Network has accompanied the domestic workers in their campaign for more than a year. In February, CLN co-hosted a “listening session” with domestic worker Antonia Sucro for area faith leaders, including several from DC-area Parishes and the Archdiocese of Washington. Like most domestic workers today, Sucro, a parishioner at St Catherine Laboure in Maryland, is an immigrant. She told of losing her job abruptly during the early spread of covid but – lacking a written work contract – was unable to access the supplemental unemployment benefits approved by Congress.
In the months since, the workers have tirelessly rallied and lobbied DC Council members to ensure that the legislation progressed. Catholic Labor Network has joined the domestic workers for these events and organized supporters to write letters and emails in support of the legislation.
Congratulations to DC’s domestic workers on their big win!