Belabored Podcast #84: Domestic Workers Unite, with Premilla Nadasen

Belabored Podcast #84: Domestic Workers Unite, with Premilla Nadasen

Premilla Nadasen joins us to talk about her new book, Household Workers Unite, on the forgotten history of black domestic workers organizing from the 1950s to the 1970s.

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Decades before the signing of New York’s landmark Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, another group of household workers were taking collective action to push for fair wages and working conditions. Barnard College historian Premilla Nadasen’s new book, Household Workers Unite, explores the little known history of the black domestic workers who led courageous organizing campaigns throughout the postwar era, intersecting with and building on the civil rights and feminist movements. By the 1970s, the nationwide push for domestic workers’ rights helped establish federal minimum wage protections and elevated the status of household labor in the eyes of employers, policymakers, and the mainstream labor movement. What can today’s domestic workers’ advocates learn as the sector faces new challenges in the global economy?

We also look at the National Labor Relations Board punting on Northwestern University football players’ rights—with comments from Professor Lee Adler of Cornell University, bank tellers and the Fight for $15, the war on working mothers, and stolen wages at Long Beach hotels. With recommended reading on “passion” on overdrive at work, and the meaning of self care.


Board Unanimously Decides to Decline Jurisdiction in Northwestern Case (National Labor Relations Board)

The Absurd, Cowardly, and Morally Bankrupt NLRB Decision Against the Northwestern Football Union (The Nation)

Sarah and Michelle: Belabored Podcast #48: Athlete-Students’ Big Win (Dissent)

Lawsuit alleges Long Beach hotel failed to pay full wages to workers (Long Beach Press Telegram)

Sarah and Michelle: Belabored Podcast #4: “Talk To Someone Like Me” (Dissent)

Michelle: Are Bank Tellers the Fast Food Workers of Wall Street? (The Nation)

Report: 3 in 4 bank tellers earn less than $15 an hour (National Employment Law Project)

The Real War on Families: Why the U.S. Needs Paid Leave Now (In These Times)

Sarah and Michelle: Belabored Podcast #51: Taking on the Big Boys, with Ellen Bravo (Dissent)

Michelle: The Unexpected Burden of Pregnancy at Work (The Nation)


Premilla Nadasen, Professor of History at Barnard College

Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement (Beacon Press)

Michelle: Shouldn’t Home Care Workers Earn a Living Wage? (The Nation)

Sarah and Michelle: Belabored Podcast #71: Building Care, with Ai-jen Poo (Dissent)

Argh, I Wish I’d Written That!

Sarah: Jennifer Pan, What Does “Self-Care” Really Mean? (Fader)

Michelle: Miya Tokumitsu, Forced to Love the Grind (Jacobin)