The Stand

Breakthrough Domestic Workers Bill of Rights unveiled in Seattle

The following is from Working Washington:

SEATTLE (June 22, 2018) — Nannies, house cleaners, and other domestic workers in Seattle are breaking down doors to win higher standards and a voice at work. Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda introduced a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in committee Thursday, which will take domestic workers from invisible to powerful.

After generations of exclusion from basic federal labor rights, domestic workers in Seattle are leading the way to a new model of worker power: the legislation creates a first-in-the-nation Domestic Workers Standards Board that includes workers, employers, and community members, and which has the power to establish binding industry standards on wages, benefits, training, and more.

“Being a house cleaner is a physically demanding job,” Adelaida Blanco testified on Thursday (at left). “We have to use our whole bodies. I’m taking medication for chronic pain as a result of injuries caused by not having enough rest and breaks. That’s why I’m here to open the door.”

Currently, thousands of domestic workers in Seattle don’t get the full protections of workers’ rights laws. Some domestic workers are specifically excluded from federal labor protections, and for many others the rights spelled out in the law simply aren’t realities on the job. Few have access to basic benefits like healthcare and retirement, and there’s no good way for workers to set industry-wide standards and improve conditions.

For months, Seattle domestic workers have been working with elected officials to develop a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights that will address the inequities faced by a workforce that’s mostly women and disproportionately people of color.

“What we’re trying to do in Seattle is to make sure that all domestic workers actually have the protections that we would assume any worker in our community gets,” Mosqueda said.

Key components of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights being introduced on Thursday:

  • Covers all part-time and full-time domestic workers in the city — regardless of whether they are technically employed by an agency or a family, and regardless of whether they are classified as employees or contractors.
  • Ensures all domestic workers are covered by the minimum wage and receive rest breaks.
  • Establishes a Domestic Workers Standards Board which includes workers, employers, and community representatives and has the power to establish industry-wide standards on wages, benefits, training, and other issues.

The Domestic Workers Standards Board would be a breakthrough step for workers rights in Seattle and across the country — a new model of collective bargaining being led by women and people of color who have been too long excluded from other basic legal protections.


The Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance (SDWA) unites nannies, house cleaners, and other domestic workers across Seattle. Workers have established SDWA a project of Working Washington, with support from Casa Latina, SEIU 775, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

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