267571 Role of Participatory Research in Documenting and Improving Workplace Conditions of Vulnerable Workers: A Case Study of Domestic Worker-led Research and Advocacy in the United States

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 3:30 PM - 3:50 PM

Andrea Cristina Mercado , Lead Organizer/Political Education Director, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, San Francisco, CA
Linda Burnham , National Research Coordinator, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Oakland, CA
Christina Fletes , National Domestic Worker Survey Project, DataCenter, Oakland, CA
Guillermina Castellanos , La Colectiva de Mujeres, La Raza Centro Legal, San Francisco, CA
Nik Theodore, PhD , Center for Urban Economic Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Since the creation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, domestic workers, or workers employed in private homes as nannies, housekeepers, and personal attendants, have routinely been excluded from labor and occupational safety and health laws protecting many other workers. In addition to increasing their workplace isolation and vulnerability to exploitation, the exclusion from these laws has meant that very little data is collected and little is known about the conditions faced in the work environment.

In 2003, a domestic worker organization in New York launched a participatory research study to survey 547 workers about their health and employment conditions. Two years later, another domestic worker organization in California conducted a similar study surveying 240 Bay Area workers. In 2010, the National Domestic Worker Alliance launched an ambitious survey of 2,300 workers in 14 metropolitan areas, conducted in nine languages.

This session will briefly share the findings from the recent participatory research studies conducted by domestic workers and describe how the research helped build the organizations' capacity to speak as experts on the working conditions of domestic workers and the need to increase labor protections for excluded workers. The session will highlight recent impressive achievements of the domestic worker movement including local employer accountability campaigns, the passage of a New York Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, the introduction of legislation in California, a national campaign to create address the crisis in caregiving, and an International Labor Organization (ILO) convention on domestic work.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1) List four key findings from the domestic workers’ participatory research surveys 2) Discuss the role of organizing and leadership development in low-wage, immigrant worker communities in improving employment conditions 3) Describe three recent major policy achievements that will impact domestic workers and care-recipients

Keywords: Participatory Research, Advocacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a domestic worker and a domestic worker organizer for many years working with La Colectiva de Mujeres in San Francisco, California. I participated in the development of the survey instrument, training of surveyors, and training in data analysis for the National Domestic Worker Survey Project, conducted in 14 cities and 9 languages.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.