For Christine and Jackie Pappas, giving to Bread & Roses has opened a new chapter in their mother-daughter relationship. Christine grew up in Florida and came to Philadelphia in 2017 for a social work graduate program. When she joined the 2019 Gender Justice Giving Project, she wanted to reach a wider network, so she asked her mom to be her fundraising partner.
“One of the groups we ended up funding was the Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance,’ Christine says. “I’m a domestic worker, a nanny, and a house cleaner. My mom is also a care worker, with elders. It was so powerful knowing that the groups we were raising money for understood care work to be not separate from gender justice, racial justice, and economic justice. Having the opportunity to fund those kinds of projects was really exciting to us.”
Christine and Jackie collaborated again for the 2020 and 2021 Future Funds: “It’s become part of our rhythm—moving and redistributing the resources we have to support this work.”
“This has been a transformational experience for us. It’s one thing to have conversations with people who identify as being part of social justice movements. My mom didn’t think of herself that way, but through the work she’s been able to claim that identity and has pushed herself in amazing ways.”
“There’s so much brilliance here in Philly. People have great ideas about how to solve all kinds of interconnected, multi-faceted problems. Bread & Roses gives them the room and resources to do that. I feel grateful to be part of it.”
Domestic workers have been excluded from nearly all the landmark federal laws protecting workers’ rights. There is no minimum wage for domestic work, nor any guarantee of time-and-a-half pay for overtime. Housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers don’t have a right to unionize. But in recent decades, domestic workers across the country have organized to win victories that make their work safer and their lives richer. Now, a new organization, the Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance (PDWA), joins the national fight.
“We represent the 16,000 domestic workers in Philadelphia,” says Maria del Carmen Diaz, a member of PDWA. The worker-led organization launched as a joint project of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice and the National Domestic Workers Alliance late last summer after a yearlong discernment process. They received a grant from Bread & Roses’ Immigration Justice Fund this spring.
Nicole Kligerman, director of PDWA, explains their strategy: “We’re bringing together women workers across language, race, and immigration status and fighting for a domestic workers’ bill of rights that will expand worker protections. We’re pushing a big campaign in city hall, but we’re also building community and developing leaders among domestic workers who are by nature of their work isolated.”
The majority of domestic workers are women of color, and many are immigrants. Diaz is one of 15 workers on the organizing committee. “On behalf of all of us, I thank Bread & Roses for their generous support, which we will use to keep fighting for our rights to win respect, dignity, equality, and identity through our domestic workers’ bill of rights.”