Ai-jen Poo has reinvented labor organizing. As co-founder of Domestic Workers United, she and her collaborators (domestic workers and their employers) got the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010, historic legislation that extended basic labor protections to over 200,000 domestic workers in New York state. This campaign has become a template for the nation, not just for domestic workers, but for increasing numbers of people working in the gig economy.
Today, Ai-jen is the Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Co-Director of Caring Across Generations, which is ensuring access to affordable care for the nation’s aging population and access to quality jobs for the caregiving workforce. She is author of the celebrated book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, a MacArthur Fellow, and was named to TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She has spoken at the Obama Summit, and accompanied Meryl Streep down the red carpet at the Academy Awards as part of the #timesup moment. Audiences feel called to their better angels in Ai-Jen’s presence–she is both fiercely political and strategic, and unmistakably gentle and inclusive. Her courage is contagious.
Combining a deep understanding of the complex tangle of human relations around domestic work with keen strategic skills, Poo has created a vibrant, worker-led labor movement.
In the work of organizing we always say that a victory isn't a victory if no one feels it’s theirs. And if you want change, you have to first envision it, and then name it to summon it into existence.
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