Most efforts of the current domestic workers’ rights movement in the United States have focused on ending the exclusion of domestic workers from employment protections that were institutionalized during the New Deal in the 1930s. These victories have been significant in both policy and culture. They have brought public attention to the invisibilized world of domestic work, and state recognition has validated this often-degraded occupation as “real work.” However, enforcement has been a problem. As domestic worker organizing has matured, it has expanded to include pushing the boundaries of state-ensured minimum standards as well as raising standards in the industry through direct intervention in the relationship between workers and employers. These programs are significant in that they reflect a different strategic approach—often with the goal of base building—than the earlier model of domestic worker advocacy and organizing.
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