The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is a labor-union-aligned and left-of-center-foundation-funded worker center which organizes and advocates for legislation concerning domestic employees such as child caregivers, household cleaners, elder caretakers, and similar workers. The organization has been characterized as part of an “alt-labor” movement supported by labor unions and major left-wing foundations including the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Nathan Cummings Foundation, and Marguerite Casey Foundation which has sought to politically activate workers in industries which are not traditionally unionized. NDWA is led by labor organizer Ai-jen Poo, who received a fellowship from the left-leaning MacArthur Foundation in 2014.
In addition to work on labor organizing, NDWA is an advocate for expanded immigration and the protection of illegal immigrants against removal from the United States. The organization has also organized political demonstrations against the Trump administration.
NDWA is funded by left-wing foundations and labor unions, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
The groundwork for the National Domestic Workers Alliance was laid in the late 1990s, when Ai-jen Poo began to organize domestic workers. Poo and three other left-wing activists would found Domestic Workers United as an advocacy group in 2000, with NDWA growing from the effort in 2007. Poo took over leadership of NDWA in 2010.
NDWA has grown rapidly since its founding, with offices in Atlanta, Georgia; Seattle, Washington; New York, New York; and Durham, North Carolina. It is affiliated with approximately 60 liberal organizations in 20 states. Notable state-level affiliated groups include the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), CASA de Maryland, the Chinese Progressive Association, TakeAction Minnesota, and a number of other local worker centers. NDWA has partnered with the far-left Institute for Policy Studies on issue research and policy development.
NDWA has been associated with the so-called “Alt-Labor” movement, a network of informal organizing entities known as “worker centers” which support the labor union agenda and have been identified by national labor unions as a path to reverse long-term declines in workforce unionization. NDWA has received financial support from labor unions, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
We Belong Together
We Belong Together is a project of the NDWA formed in 2010 to oppose Arizona legislation which would have involved state law enforcement in immigration enforcement before the legislation’s implementation was halted by a court order. The campaign has emphasized its opposition to the removal of any non-citizen parents of American-citizen children.
Caring Across Generations
Caring Across Generations is an NDWA-supported campaign that seeks to expand job opportunities for home help aides and government healthcare programs for the elderly. It seeks further expansion of government control over healthcare, mandated paid family leave, government-run childcare, and government-controlled home care for the elderly and infirm. It opposed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Domestic Work Regulation Advocacy
NDWA supports the creation of so-called “Domestic Workers’ Bills of Rights” in state and municipal legislatures. The proposals mandate expanded overtime pay, paid time off, and anti-harassment procedures to cover domestic employees.
NDWA regularly lobbies for such legislation, and the organization was part of the successful effort by its California state affiliate, the California Domestic Workers Coalition, to pass such a policy in California. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on September 26, 2014. Similar bills have been passed with NDWA support in New York, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Illinois, as well as the city of Seattle, Washington. The Seattle effort was also supported by the SEIU-funded worker center Working Washington.
Ai-jen Poo has been NDWA’s director since 2010 and is co-director of Caring Across Generations. Between 2000 and 2009 she led the related organization Domestic Workers United. From 1997 to 2008 she was also a Community Fellow with the Open Society Institute, a policy organization associated with billionaire progressive financier George Soros. Poo has won a MacArthur Fellowship, one of the most notable honorariums given to left-wing activists, and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation, one of the largest left-wing grantmaking organizations.
Alicia Garza is NDWA’s special projects director, and has held that position since 2013. Garza is also notable as a credited co-founder of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, alongside two other left-wing activists, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. For eight years prior to her employment with NDWA, Garza was executive director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), a San Francisco-based left-wing community organizing group now part of Causa Justa Just Cause.
NDWA receives funding from a number of left-wing and liberal foundations. From 2011 through 2016, the Ford Foundation provided NDWA with $4.1 million, the Open Society Foundations and Foundation to Promote Open Society funded by George Soros provided $1.3 million, and the Marguerite Casey Foundation supplied $1 million. Other notable donors include the Surdna Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the NoVo Foundation associated with the family of Warren Buffett, NEO Philanthropy, and the Rockefeller Foundation. From 2013 through 2016, these and other left-wing foundations funneled $14.4 million to NDWA.
NDWA has enjoyed substantial financial growth since 2012. Revenues increased 267 percent between 2012 and 2015. Net assets increased 597 percent over the same period. The largest expenditure increase between 2014 and 2015 was for grants and assistance to other organizations, growing from $651,699 in 2014 to $2,097,898 in 2015. Much of NDWA’s support goes to advocacy groups for higher immigration and normalization of status for illegal immigrants like CASA de Maryland, Puente Arizona (Mijente Support Committee), La Plaza de Encuentro, the Latino Union of Chicago, and others.
Its largest single donation went the Domestic Worker Legacy Fund, a sister organization to NDWA that received $490,000 in 2015. Another large 2015 donation ($190,000) went to the labor union-aligned National Employment Law Project, which advocates for the $15 minimum wage and other left-wing labor-related issues.