Workers’ Awaaz (Workers’ Voice) is a membership based organization in New York City of South Asian low-wage and domestic workers. Although the organization supports all women in domestic services, its primary focus is on women from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; as well as those are from the Caribbean, Fiji, Guyana, Africa, Southeast Asia and other parts of the diaspora. The organization advocates on behalf of domestic workers (housekeepers, nannies and cooks) to obtain unpaid wages, healthy and safe working conditions, freedom from long hours, and improved working conditions.
Founded in 1997, as part of Domestic Workers’ Committee at Sakhi for South Asian Women and later separated, by a group of South Asian women activists and domestic workers, Workers’ Awaaz is a nonprofit, nonpartisan female domestic workers’ group. Workers’ Awaaz assists workers in ensuring that they are:
- paid the minimum wage
- receive overtime pay
- aware of their rights under workers’ compensation laws
- receive training in basic employee rights
- protection under state and federal law, etc.
Workers’ Awaaz works with public interest law centers such as the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the New York University Immigrant Law Clinic to pursue their goals. The organization also offers ESL classes, know-your-rights workshops, etc.
The organization also sues employers on behalf of domestic workers for violations of federal and state laws, and organizes pickets and demonstrations against abusive employers. Workers’ Awaaz also works to build public awareness of the sometimes abusive conditions under which many South Asian domestic workers labor in the U.S.
Since many immigrant domestics are isolated by language, working conditions and restrictions placed on them by employers, Workers’ Awaaz uses a variety of outreach efforts to reach workers in need. It places advertisements in various South Asian-related newspapers, sets up tables at South Asian community events, and engages in face-to-face conversations in markets and stores.