Brazilian Worker Center

Fighting for Social and Economic Justice


On June 16, 2012 the first-ever Massachusetts Domestic Workers Congress took place at the SEIU 1199 building, located at 150 Mount Vernon Street, Boston. It was organized by the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers that was founded in December 2010 by the Brazilian Immigrant Center, the Dominican Development Center, Matahari, BWG/Vida Verde Cooperative, and Women’s Institute for Leadership Development to build a campaign for a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in our state. We were honored to be joined by representatives of sister organizations the National Domestic Worker Alliance (NDWA), and Domestic Workers United (DWU) of New York. We gratefully acknowledge the Berger Marks Foundation for funding the Congress.

Congress Goal: Defining our Bill of Rights
During the congress, our main goal  was to outline all the issues that we wish to be addressed in a new Domestic Worker Bill of Rights for Massachusetts. We need everyone’s full and active participation to help us craft a comprehensive list that really addresses the problems we have in the workplace. We also gathered information from the participants about all our current relationships with Massachusetts legislators and labor organizations, as well as our ideas for our upcoming media campaign.

After the Congress: Next Steps
What will our next steps be? The campaign to win a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in Massachusetts will be a long process, and at every stage it will require the support of each and every one of us, and the organizations, churches, and communities that we are part of. We will need your active participation for each and every step of the way!

Step Two: Drafting the Bill
Now that we have recorded many congress suggestions, we will take them and work with volunteer attorneys to draft a new law for our state, the Massachusetts Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, to guarantee our rights to decent working conditions and fair pay and benefits in return for all that we do to support, sustain, and care for so many families in our state.

Step Three: Submitting the New Law
After each organization has the chance to review and revise our proposed law, we will submit it to the Massachusetts legislature on December 5, 2012, so that it can be debated and voted on during the 2013 legislative session.

Step Four: Lobbying, Lobbying, Lobbying!
Once it is assigned to the legislative committee that will consider the bill, the joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee, our lobbying work must begin. We have to meet with the leadership of the legislature, all the members of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee (17 people), and many other Representatives and Senators from our own cities and towns, to convince them that this is a bill they should support and pass, that will benefit Massachusetts in good ways. We need the support of the Governor’s Executive Office, too.

Step Five: Building Wider Coalitions and Alliances
We also will have to gain the support of the wider labor movement in Massachusetts, and we must widen our coalition of supporters and endorsers to include many more organizations, non-profits, faith communities, labor unions, and business groups. The support of labor unions is especially essential to our winning legislative support for our Bill.

Step Six: Attend and testify at legislative hearings on the Bill of Rights
We need to be ready to go to hearings. We will need many of us to be in the audience, and will have a line-up of witnesses, including workers with good stories, and progressive employers who support the bill.

Step Seven: a Strong Media Campaign
During all of these previous stages, we will need a strong, effective media campaign, with good messaging. We have to explain in convincing ways why the general public should support domestic worker rights – because it means supporting all that we contribute to bringing loving, caring relationships to Massachusetts homes and families.

Step Eight: Oversight and Enforcement
Once our Bill is passed and becomes law, our Coalition will continue to play a role as an important collaborator with the Attorney General’s Office in defining strong oversight and enforcement safeguards, to make sure the law is implemented and observed.

Step Nine: Awareness Campaign
All of us will need to participate actively in a broad public education campaign, for workers, employers, and the public, about the new law and the protections it brings to domestic workers.

If you are not already involved, there many ways in which you can become part of this movement. Please contact us for more information.

Thank you ! all those who have supported our movement and made today’s Congress possible:

National Alliance of Domestic Workers (NDWA)
Domestic Workers United (New York)
Cidadão Global (New York)
SEIU, Local 1199
SEIU, Local 615
US Department of Labor, Region One, OSHA
US Department of Labor, Region One, Wage & Hour Division
Brazilian Magazine
A Noticia
Brazilian Times
Metropolitan News
Bate Papo TV and Magazine
Know your Rights Radio Show, 1300am
Brazilian Women’s Group
Greater Boston Legal Services
National Lawyers Guild, Massachusetts Chapter
Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS)
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
Community-Labor United (CLU)
Boston New Sanctuary Movement
Jobs with Justice, Massachusetts
Justice at Work
Metrowest Workers Center
Labor Resource Center, UMass Boston
UMass Labor Extension
Community Mediation Center, Cambridge
Northeastern University Law School,
Legal Skills in Social Context Program
Cafe Brazil
Samba Bar
Muqueca Restaurant
Oliveira’s Restaurant, Everett
Starbuck’s, Cambridge
JS Cleaning and Painting
Express Graphics Designs, Stoughton
Boston Women’s Fund
Miller Innovation Fund
Berger Marks Foundation
Unitarian Universalist Association Foundation
Episcopal City Mission, Burgess Urban Fund
Jewish Funds for Social Justice

updated: 8 years ago