By Ai-jen Poo, Caring Across co-director
On Wednesday, thousands of domestic workers from across the country are expected to participate in #DayWithoutAWoman by wearing red and refusing to shop. Some will also refrain from working and will instead participate in events such as the Women Workers Rising rally at the Department of Labor in Washington.
The rally will highlight the indispensable contributions women make to the economy, with particular focus on the work of the least visible among us. The fact is, that if domestic workers decide not to work, they may lose their jobs, but for many of them, since the election, such dramatic risk defines their daily existence.
But low-wage workers take risks all the time — for their families and for our democracy — and they have done so through the ages. The first strike on record of US domestic workers took place in 1881 when the black washerwomen of Atlanta sought to raise their poverty-level pay rate. It was a bold action that shook the local economy.
The women were successful in building solidarity through collective action, raising their pay rate and proving beyond doubt the critical nature of their work.