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Massachusetts Domestic Workers Win Nation’s Strongest Bill of Rights

MCDW photo

Housekeepers, nannies, caregivers for the elderly and other domestic workers in Massachusetts now are protected by the nation’s fourth and most comprehensive Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights.

Signed this month by Gov. Deval Patrick (D),  the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights is the culmination of a four-year effort by the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers (MCDW), composed of workers and immigrant, labor, community, faith and other groups. Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman said:

The Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights is a shining example of grassroots advocacy meeting legislative leadership to make a real impact on workers’ lives. As a result of this law, tens of thousands of nannies, caregivers and housekeepers in the commonwealth have gained vital labor standards that will help to end the abuse and mistreatment that has been all too common in this industry.

The bill is the most comprehensive in the nation and provides groundbreaking protections including the right to a written contract, just-cause termination and maternity leave. It also guarantees such basic labor protections as clarity on what constitutes working time, freedom from sexual harassment and protection from the abuses of trafficking and from retaliation for asserting wage violations.

Many domestic workers—mostly women of color and immigrants—struggle to make ends meet, and according to a National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) survey, 36% of live-in workers report threats or verbal abuse and 35% work long hours without breaks. Domestic workers often face isolation, working alone in their employers’ homes. In winning these new rights, domestic workers in Massachusetts proved it is possible to bring workers together and organize despite enormous barriers. 

MCDW Coordinator Lydia Evans said:

We’re looking forward to working together to implement the law so that every domestic worker and domestic employer in the commonwealth knows the new rights and guidelines that will assure quality care and dignity for all.

You can click here to send a message of congratulations to the Massachusetts workers and activists who worked so hard to win the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights.

The other states with Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights are California, Hawaii and New York.   

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