New Labor Fights for Domestic Workers Resolution

New Labor Fights for Domestic Workers Resolution

Six days per week, all year long, many women work cleaning houses (and more) in Lakewood, NJ. There is a lot of work, but unfortunately, there are not always good conditions. Sometimes, unregulated intermediaries need to be paid just to get work, some domestic workers are obligated to clean entire rooms from their knees, are yelled at or treated without respect, some are asked to do excessive tasks in a short amount of time, and others suffer from wage theft or harassment. As they say: “We are women, not machines!”

Domestic workers and members of New Labor have been working on a campaign to improve the conditions of work for domestic workers in Lakewood, NJ. Through a series of trainings, encuentros, and direct actions, members have assumed leadership roles in the campaign. A march was held on March 30 to coincide with International Domestic Workers Day. In subsequent encuentros, workers wanted more than just a march. So they decided to push for a local “bill of rights” that would address issues of respect, intermediaries, pay and breaks.

Over the summer, they worked on building the base and showing support by gaining over 300 signatures to then meet with the mayor of Lakewood. At that meeting, the mayor heard worker concerns and generally indicated something could be done, to the tune of following up with the Town Council. A small contingent went to the next town Council meeting to see what progress had been made, but nothing had been done. And the same went for the following meeting.

As a result, workers decided to go en masse to the November meetings to occupy it and push for a decision. At the first meeting, seven workers gave testimony. Two Town Council members then pushed the idea of supporting a resolution of support recognizing the issues faced by domestic workers in Lakewood.

At the town council meeting on November 21, 2013 the mayor said he could feel the tension after we escalated and brought 35 people and once again provided testimony, and the resolution of support for our efforts and our bill of rights was passed! La lucha sigue…as the word will be spread and we continue to build the base!

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