The Domestic Workers' Movement
Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built A Movement
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/07/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21464
Book review of Premilla Nadasen's Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built A Movement.
Household Workers Unite blends women's personal histories with historical research to showcase the lives of Black domestic workers. The women's accounts of their lives while growing up and then working for white families - predominantly in the South - and the supportive research provided by the author assist in developing powerful narratives of a movement that was part of the civil rights and labor movements.
In outlining some of the alliances that these various domestic worker organizations made, Nadasen discusses the tensions that existed between cross-class alliances with middle-class women who were allies and also acknowledges the problem that domestic workers were generally not welcomed by organized labor.
She notes that New Deal legislation didn't cover domestic work, a consequence of both "racial politics as well as assumptions about what constituted work." She also explains that as unions "established boundaries of privilege around their members," they "contributed to the marginalization of household workers."