JFREJ Letter to the New York Times calls for Domestic Worker Bill of Rights

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July 27, 2004

To the Editor:

“The Maid’s Tale” (July 25th) states that domestic workers have the power in the relationships with their employers. Actual working conditions for domestic work show that the opposite is true: immigrant nannies in New York work an average of 55 hours per week, and fully half make less than minimum wage.

Articles like “The Maid’s Tale” may help assuage guilt about low-wage work by suggesting that domestic workers are happy and powerful within their jobs, but they make it harder to make changes like the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights which was recently introduced into the New York State Assembly. This legislation would go a long way towards ameliorating the real power imbalance between domestic workers and their employers by mandating a living wage and extending federal labor protections like anti-discrimination law for domestic workers.

Shira Epstein

On behalf of the Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) Shalom Bayit: Justice for Domestic Workers Campaign