my vicarious blow for workers rights


Guillermina Castellano passed her citizenship test today! She’s a major activist for domestic workers’ rights here in San Francisco, and she wanted citizenship partly to feel more secure in her activism. I’d been tutoring and advising her (along the lines of “Tell yourself, ‘I’m already a citizen,'” and “Remember to breathe”) off and on for the last couple of months.

Since the 1930s, when Congress passed laws protecting workers’ right to organize, setting the federal minimum wage, making rules about overtime pay and maximum hours, and establishing other rights we now consider basic (or take for granted), domestic workers and farm laborers have been left out. These workers were majority black at the time (and these have remained jobs for minorities ever since), and the Southern Democratic caucus insisted on their exclusion in exchange for their support of the legislation. While the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice are fighting to secure these rights for the people who grow your food, Guille and her camaradas in the National Domestic Workers Alliance are working to do the same for the people who cook it for you (or for your neighbors).

My contribution isn’t much, but I’m going to go enjoy the chocolate that Guille gave me as a thank-you gift.

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