Washington, DC - Over 200 domestic workers, farmworker women, actresses, and allies from the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (National Farmworker Women's Alliance) rallied at Congress yesterday demanding lawmakers to extend sexual harassment laws so that every woman is protected -- no loopholes, no exclusions.
The women were met with an outpouring of support from actresses and members of TIME’S UP, including Kerry Washington and Sarah Jones on social media, and a special video from Meryl Streep dedicated to the farmworker women and domestic workers.
Kerry Washington (@kerrywashington): Women are mobilizing in DC this week to make sure ALL workplaces are safe. Join @domesticworkers @campesinasunite to demand federal law protect ALL workers from sexual harassment & assault in the workplace #AllWorkSafeWork #SAAM2018
Sarah Jones @jonessarah: #timesup isn’t just about actresses. Farmworker women & domestic workers hv always been extremely vulnerable to workplace sexual violence & still are. Thx @aijenpoo, @domesticworkers & @campesinasunite for taking the fight to #congress #AllWorkSafeWork #SAAM2018 #Unstoppable
Olga Segura, actress, producer, and one of the founding members of TIME’S UP, who attended the day’s event said, “With all of the fame and fortune that some believe come with the entertainment industry...it is not immune to problems like sexual harassment. I’m here because I know it is a major issue in my industry, and it is just as common if not more common in industries like agriculture and domestic work… If the law does not protect all of us then the law is not good enough and must be changed.”
The Unstoppable Day of Action was named for the power of recent survivor solidarity and unprecedented unity among farmworkers and domestic workers, two workforces that have been historically and systematically excluded from most federal workplace laws. The action took place during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and brought together women who have survived harassment and abuse in the privacy of employers homes and the isolation of fields.
They pointed to the need to expand “Title VII,” the federal anti-discrimination law that prohibits sexual harassment but only applies to workplaces with 15 or more employees, excluding more than half of the US workforce.
“One woman harassed on the job is one woman too many,” explained Mónica Ramirez, President of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. “We travelled all around the country to send a singular message that no matter where we work or how many people we work with, we deserve to be free from violence at the workplace.”
Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance added, “In every industry and in every corner, women are making history refusing abuse. We will continue to find ways to lift each other up. We all want to be able to live and work with safety and dignity. Our solutions leave no one behind.”
Without workplace laws, sexual harassment is commonplace for those left out of Title VII.
June Barrett, survivor and domestic worker leader from Miami Workers Center, said “The more women who come forward, the more power we will build and the more change we will create. We have suffered in silence and we are saying ‘enough is enough.’ We are going to step into our power against sexual harassment.”
Teresa Arredondo, survivor and farmworker leader from Alianza de Campesinas, followed, “I’ve worked 32 years in the fields and my life hasn’t been easy. I experienced harassment from supervisors, owners, and other workers. Far from cities, where no one knows we exist, it isn’t just that women like me have had to endure that abuse to feed our families. But we can have a voice and Congress needs to hear it and pass protections for us.”
With ongoing attention from the #MeToo movement and entertainment industry disclosures, the group aims to shine a light on solutions for people in every industry, especially those who fail to receive the same amount of news coverage as higher paid workers.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) spoke at the rally outside the legislative offices and said, “We’re at a crucial time in this country where women are saying “me too” and “times up.” The many women who are picking the food that nourish us and who care for us in our homes need to be nourished as well. We need to make sure the [EEOC] extends protections and resources to ensure anti-discrimination do what we need to hold abusers accountable.”
About Alianza de Campesinas (National Farmworkers Women's Alliance)
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (National Farmworker Women’s Alliance) is the first national farmworker women’s organization in the U.S. created by current and former farmworker women, along with women who hail from farmworker families. Alianza de Campesinas’ is comprised of 18 member organizations around the United States and in Mexico. The organization was founded in 2011 to promote the interests and priorities of the 700,000 farmworker women who pick, plant, and pack agricultural products across the U.S. and to ensure that farmworker women have a place at power tables where decisions are made that impact their lives and the lives of their families. Alianza’s policy priority areas include general labor protections, violence against women and girls, pesticides and immigration. For more information, visit www.campesinasunite.org
National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States, most of whom are women. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for the respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers. NDWA has won legislation protecting domestic workers’ rights in seven states including New York, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Connecticut, Illinois, and Nevada. The Alliance is powered by over 60 affiliate organizations — plus local chapters in Atlanta, Durham, and New York City — of over 20,000 nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers for the elderly and people with disabilities in 37 cities and 18 states. For information, visit https://www.domesticworkers.org/
About National Domestic Workers Alliance