Date of Graduation

Spring 5-28-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Kathleen Coll


Domestic workers are skilled professionals who engage in a variety of activities ranging from housecleaning, elderly care and childcare support in private households. In the United States, it is estimated that there are over 2.5 million domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrant women of color.[1] Due to the historic racialized and gendered exclusion from labor law protections such as the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, [2] the labor of domestic worker professionals has been made invisible in the United States. Today, domestic workers are three times as likely to be living in poverty and are less likely to receive workplace benefits such as healthcare, overtime pay, and paid time off when compared to all other workforces.[3] The private and informally-governed nature of the work, policy enforcement issues, and the barriers that immigrant women face in and outside of the workplace have created an acute dilemma for both immigrant domestic workers and their employers. In partnership with two community organizations in San Francisco, California- Hand in Hand the Domestic Employers Network and the California Domestic Workers Coalition- this paper follows a local “paid time off” legislative campaign led by immigrant women domestic workers and supported by employers to bring lasting changes to the household workplace. Through studying the particular case of enacting a paid time off program in San Francisco, this paper asks what is the role of immigrant women organizing to enforce cultural and policy changes in the household workplace? And what is the role of employers of domestic workers to support this immigrant women-led movement? Finally, through the application of two principles of the social solidarity economy framework, “embrace and integrate immigrant California” and “care for the caring economy”, this research will examine immigrant domestic worker’s demands to radically reimagine social and economic systems to provide care for care workers.

[1] Labor Center, UCLA. "Profile, Practices And Needs Of California's Domestic Work Employers". UCLA Labor Center, 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2019

[2] Nadasen, Premilla. "Citizenship Rights, Domestic Work, And The Fair Labor Standards Act". The Journal Of Policy History, vol 24, 2012.

[3] Wolfe, Julie et al “Domestic workers chartbook A comprehensive look at the demographics, wages, benefits, and poverty rates of the professionals who care for our family members and clean our homes” Economic Policy Institute, 2020