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Virginia Lawmakers Honor Domestic Workers, Introduce Resolution Creating Annual ‘Domestic Workers Day’

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The Virginia General Assembly recognized the contributions of the commonwealth’s domestic workers, recently introducing a resolution praising the often overlooked labor of the nannies, housekeepers, and home care workers who help make all other work possible. The resolution also seeks to establish an annual “Domestic Workers Day” every June, Blue Virginia shared.

“This sector, a vital component of our economy, is unfortunately undervalued and susceptible to abuse,” said Delegate Candi Mundon King, who called herself a “proud” descendent of a domestic worker. “Notably dominated by women of color, particularly immigrants, domestic workers face a stark reality. But thanks to many members in this body, their future is looking brighter every day.”

The commonwealth is among 11 states, Washington, D.C., and one municipality – as well as the first state in the South – to pass a Domestic Workers Bill Rights, which closes a decades-old loophole that excluded these workers from basic workplace protections. Nearly 55,000 domestic workers call the commonwealth home. The vast majority are women, and more than half are people of color, the General Assembly said in a 2021 report.

Several domestic workers, clad in matching t-shirts, were at the capitol for the resolution’s introduction and were met with standing ovations by lawmakers:

“As the proud descendant of a domestic worker, I was honored to host them in the People’s House today,” Delegate King wrote on the social media site formerly known as Twitter. “All work should be treated with dignity and I make it my mission to make sure these women are recognized for all they do throughout our Commonwealth.”

“When I started this work at Care in Action, we were educating lawmakers about the role of domestic workers and the human rights that were being denied to this workforce,” Yanet Limon-Amado, Virginia State Director for Care in Action, said in a post from Blue Virginia. “Thanks to the support of care champions in the General Assembly, these women are no longer ignored. I’m so grateful to see Virginia recognize the work and care domestic workers provide to individuals and families across the commonwealth.”

Earlier this month, New Jersey was the latest state in the nation to pass legislation affirming that domestic workers deserve dignity, respect, and protections in the workplace. The New Jersey Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights guarantees domestic workers their meal and rest breaks, a weekly day of rest, mandatory employment contracts, and as well as ensures protections against unscrupulous and abusive bosses, among numerous provisions. Many likely assume domestic workers were already guaranteed these basic workplace rights, but as the Virginia resolution notes, these workers (along with farmworkers) “were intentionally excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act as a concession to southern politicians in the early 1900s.”

Since helping pass the Virginia Domestic Workers Bill Rights in 2021, domestic workers and advocates have continued to urge the passage of a federal version of the legislation. Across the nation, more than 2.2 million workers, overwhelmingly immigrants and women of color, help take care of our homes, children, and loved ones. 

On a personal note, I am the son of a former housekeeper of more than 25 years, and I’ve seen how hard domestic workers work. So ensuring these workers in Virginia and across the nation get the dignity and rights they deserve hits especially close to home.   

“Many times, our work is undervalued,” Marjorie Majorenos, a nanny and member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said in a 2023 report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We must raise our voices to bring about positive action.”