In 2003, DataCenter was approached by the Domestic Workers United to partner on a participatory, worker-led research project to document the working conditions of domestic workers in New York City. That project led to a parallel one in the Bay Area and the two projects laid down the groundwork for institutionalizing community-led research at the DataCenter.
It’s now seven years later, the domestic worker organizations created a national alliance, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), with over 30 affiliated organizations across the United States. In an industry that isn’t protected by basic labor protections and where workers are isolated in the workplace, the dearth of information remains an issue. For this reason, NDWA decided that they would lead the process of filling in that gap and initiated a national survey project.
They partnered with DataCenter and the Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED) of the University of Illinois at Chicago to design the project. Spanning over two years, the project aims to collect over 2,000 surveys and position NDWA as the primary expert on the industry. The project will also encompass capacity building, base building and leadership development that will strengthen local organizations and build unity within the alliance.
Since that first project, DataCenter has designed a core of capacity building trainings and tools that genuinely engage communities in research processes and will ensure workers are actively engaged in the project. Some of those tools include survey design, surveying and data analysis. The project will be instrumental in getting domestic work recognized as real work and included in workplace protection.