Posts Written by Sheila

How Louis C.K. helps the domestic workers’ movement by showing that parenting is work

Ed. Note: This is a guest post by Sheila Bapat. Sheila is a former employment attorney who now writes about gender and economic justice. Her book about the U.S. domestic workers’ movement will be released by Ig Publishing in 2014.

I saw American Hustle on New Years Day. I was pleasantly surprised when comedian Louis C.K. popped onto the screen. In the film he plays the role of police chief Stoddard Thorsen who spars with an overzealous cop Richie DiMaso (played by Bradley Cooper).

This role comes just months after C.K. showed up in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Meanwhile, his critically acclaimed FX television show, Louie, is about to begin its fourth season.

Louis C.K.’s cultural capital is rising alongside a social movement that is also taking off right now: the domestic workers’ movement in the United States. Few would think to connect the comedian with an immigrant women-led movement focused on improving labor protections for workers who care for children, clean homes and serve as companions to elders. Most of these workers are women of color who toil in private homes, and whose labor for decades has barely earned them a minimum wage. The movement has secured a domestic workers’ bill of rights in three states — New York, Hawaii and California – as well as reversed longstanding Fair Labor Standards Act regulations that excluded home care workers from minimum wage and overtime pay.

While its policy objective is to improve ...

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