The Roosevelt administration passed many enduring
in the 1930’s, including the Social Security Act and
the National Labor
Relations Act. The latter made it easier for workers
to form unions
and bargain collectively with their employers. Domestic
farmworkers, however, were explicitly excluded from both laws, a
that allowed Roosevelt to gather the votes of Southern, white
members, among others. At the time, 95 percent of domestic
workers were Black women in the South. Most agricultural workers were
Filipino or Mexican. Today, workers in other job categories are
vulnerable to labor abuses, like day laborers and “workfare” workers.
Organizations nationwide are creating and fighting for solutions. Here
are some highlights.
Anti-immigrant rhetoric makes the lives of day laborers difficult.
Although they are eligible for
minimum wage and health and safety
protections, the formal complaint processes are tough to access,
especially if they’re undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, cities
states are creating “loitering” laws to drive day laborers out, although
the demand for their work remains strong. The National Day Labor Organizing Network is pushing back. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
<p><b><img alt="laborday_farmworker_090310.jpg" src="/sites/default/files/images/articles/2010/09/labordayfarmworker090310.jpg" class="mt-image-left" height="270" width="350" />Farmworkers</b></p> <p>In 1966 farmworkers were included in the Fair Labor Standards Act, but they still <a href="http://www.laprogressive.com/rankism/labor-social-justice/on-cesar-chavezs-birthday-new-national-farmworker-campaign-launched/" target="_blank">aren't covered</a> by the National Labor Relations Act. Yet agriculture is among the top five most dangerous occupations in the country. Farmworkers risk pesticide exposure and live in chronically bad housing. Nearly 75 percent nationwide earn less than $10,000 a year. In Florida, <a href="http://www.ciw-online.org/" target="_blank">the Coalition of Immokalee Workers</a> have helped win "fair food agreements" from fast food chains. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)</p> <br clear="all" /> <p></p><img alt="laborday_homecareworker090310.jpg" src="/sites/default/files/images/articles/2010/09/labordayhomecareworker090310.jpg" class="mt-image-left" height="270" width="350" /><b>Domestic Workers<br /><br /></b><p>Domestic workers include nannies, housekeepers and companions to people who are elderly or ill. There are some 200,000 domestic workers in the U.S. The <a href="http://www.nationaldomesticworkeralliance.org/campaigns/ilo-convention" target="_blank">National Domestic Workers Alliance</a> includes organizations working to protect their rights in <a href="http://www.mujeresunidas.org/" target="_blank">California</a>, <a href="http://www.casademaryland.org/" target="_blank">Maryland</a>, <a href="http://nclawreview.net/2010/05/11/achieving-accountability-for-migrant-domestic-worker-abuse/" target="_blank">North Carolina</a> and many other states. The New York Domestic Workers Coalition, which includes Latinas, South Asians and Carribbean women, and Domestic Workers United recently won the first Bill of Rights in New York state. The International Labor Organization will soon pass a global convention on decent work for domestic workers. (Photo CC/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/grabenstein/">Parvapax</a>)<br /><br /><br /></p><p><strong><b><img alt="laborday_tippedworker_090310.jpg" src="/sites/default/files/images/articles/2010/09/labordaytippedworker090310.jpg" class="mt-image-left" height="270" width="350" />Tipped Workers</b></strong></p> <p>The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour, and it hasn't changed in nearly 20 years. Along with servers, some back-of-the-house workers are also tipped. It's common practice for managers to steal tips from workers in an illegal practice known as "tipping the house", where servers have to share their tips with managers. The <a href="http://www.rocunited.org/who-we-are" target="_blank">Restaurant Opportunities Centers United</a> is organizing in workplaces nationwide to raise the federal minimum wage for tipped workers. (Photo CC/ <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/spine/">Rick Audet</a>)</p> <p><strong><b><br clear="all" /></b></strong></p> <p></p><p><img alt="welfaretowork_090310.jpg" src="/sites/default/files/images/2010/09/welfaretowork_090310.jpg" class="mt-image-left" height="270" width="350" /><b><strong>Workfare workers</strong></b></p> <p>The welfare reform law in 1996 created Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF). States expanded their "workfare" programs, in which cash-assistance recipients are required to work for their benefits. Employers who receive subsidies to hire these workers are essentially invited to exploit them, aware that recipients will lose both paychecks and assistance if they resist. In California, the group LIFETIME is organizing women in TANF to demand better.</p><br clear="all" />