Solidarity & Sanctuary on the May 1st Day of Action

Did you know that May 1st has historically been a day of action for workers around the world?

Ever since 200,000 workers went on strike for an eight-hour day on May 1st, 1886, most of the world has celebrated this historic moment annually, even though the U.S. officially celebrates "Labor Day" in September and the holiday tends to have a less political connotation.

But these are highly political times. Given the heightened level of insecurity both workers and immigrants are facing under the Trump administration, social justice groups across the nation are planning May 1st strikes and protest actions across America.

In other words, they plan to #ShutitDownMay1st by showing the country a #DayWithoutAWorker and a #DayWithoutAnImmigrant.

While many of us are workers ourselves, as people who employ a nanny or childcare provider, house cleaner, or home care attendant, we can have a unique impact on May 1 by supporting the workers in our homes. Whether you’d like to participate in the actions on May 1st as an employer, worker, or both, the important thing is to participate!

Learn more about the Day of Action and what domestic employers can do during a thirty minute call on Thursday, April 27th with Ilana Berger, Director, Hand in Hand, and Andrea Cristina Mercado, Director of Campaigns at the National Domestic Workers Alliance. RSVP Here. 

On the call, we’ll dig into how we as domestic employers are planning to take action in the following ways:

Give the person we employ a paid day off  

We’re encouraging all domestic employers who can to offer the person they employ a paid day off so that they’re able to participate in the strike. And we encourage you to join workers out in the streets! If giving a paid day off isn't possible—and we know that it isn't for many—see below for more ways to participate.


Join our local chapters for actions in New York or the Bay Area

Our organizers and leaders are heading to the streets!

New York: Join our New York chapter at A Day Without Immigrants and Rise Up NY, May 1. The plan is to make signs together at our offices from noon to three, then join the march in Union Square at 5 p.m. To coordinate, email our NY organizer, Tatiana

Bay Area: In the morning, we'll be bringing our kids to join the All-Day May Day Activities for Young Activists + Allies in San Antonio park in Oakland.  At 3 pm, we'll be joining our CA Domestic Worker Coalition allies at Fruitvale BART station for the Oakland May Day: March & Strike for Immigrant and Worker Rights. Email our Bay Area organizer, Lindsay, if you'd like to volunteer in the morning or join us for the march.  Please let her know if you have any access needs. 


Join a march/rally/action near you, with the person you employ

Look up actions all over the country on the site. You can even learn how to organize a strike for better conditions at your own workplace or how to plan ahead to take the day off.  


Make calls to Congress, write letters, post on social media

You can sign petitions or find actions to take or issues to communicate with your elected official about at other social justice or progressive organizations like MoveOn, CTZNWELL, Hollaback, MomsRising, and JFREJ.


Have a Sanctuary Homes conversation with the worker you employ

  • Have you spoken about the election? If not, now is a great time. It doesn’t require scheduling a meeting or any formal structure. You could simply start with: “I’ve been meaning to ask: How have you been feeling since the election?” With that, the lines of communication are open! You can read more tips here.  

  • Our key tip is always to avoid making assumptions, whether it’s about their or their family’s immigration statuses or their politics.

  • Ask if the person you employ has heard of the May 1st Day of Action. If not, you can say what it’s about, share how you plan to participate or support, and ask if they are interested in participating in some way. (Be mindful that many people do not feel comfortable with protests for a variety of reasons.)

  • Think right now about what you can offer or would like to suggest. Would you like to attend a rally together? If you can’t provide a paid day off, maybe you can spend an hour of the day together making calls to your representatives?

  • If you think they may be reluctant to say they’d like the day off work if it’s a day they’re scheduled to work at your home, you can take the pressure off by being the first to mention it, and be clear that you can offer a paid day off so that they know they aren’t choosing between a paycheck and the protest.

Remember that when it comes to political action, you don't have to do everything, and you don't have to be perfect. You just have to start and to do something. Whatever you do on May 1, know that you're doing it as part of a community of people just like you. We're with you! And you can share what you’re doing by tagging us on social media (@DomesticEmployers on Facebook and @HiHEmployers on Twitter) or sending us an email.

Does putting up a window sign make a difference?

This moment feels too urgent to spend our energy doing things that don’t have any impact. So we asked ourselves, Does it really matter if people put up signs in their windows?

Well, let’s think about what symbolic actions do:

  • How do you feel when you see someone wearing a shirt with your favorite team’s name?
  • Why do people line the path of a marathon to cheer runners on?
  • What was it like to see millions turn out for the Women’s March — or to be one of them?

These things say: We are connected. I am here for you. I am on your side.

That’s why we designed a whole bunch of different 8.5 x 11 window signs as part of the #SanctuaryHomes campaign—to help all of us in our community find a way to communicate with our nieghbors and neighborhood.

Have you talked to your neighbors about posting signs, too, declaring yourselves a neighborhood that is safe and welcoming to all?

Download one and put it somewhere where your neighbors and passersby can see.

And nowadays, our digital homes and virtual windows are also critical and influential points of sharing and connection. Posting a picture of your sign online, like Gillian did, encourages others to be visible and vocal in their solidarity too. Tag it #SanctuaryHomes if you’d like to share it with us, too.

#SanctuaryHomes Update 1: Solidarity Everywhere

Since we launched #SanctuaryHomes, the need for moral action that is grounded in our homes, neighborhoods and communities has become increasingly clear.

Just earlier today, New York campaign activists stood in solidarity with workers from Tom Cat Bakery who are at risk of losing their jobs, and fear imminent raids and deportations following a notification from Department of Homeland Security of an I-9 audit.

Every day there are more reasons for us to organize and come together with our neighbors to support families under attack right now. And every day, you are doing just that.

One month into the campaign, thousands of employers and our friends have signed the #SanctuaryHomes pledge and begun using our resources to bring the campaign into their homes and communities. We’ve been presenting at town hall meetings, tabling at rallies, and setting up house meetings.

Like many organizations and organizers, we’re learning, adapting and responding to meet the evolving needs of this moment. It’s been busy!

Connecting the dots on sanctuary

Earlier this month, we were proud to join hundreds of organizers and leaders from across the country at the Defy, Defend, Expand Sanctuary inPhiladelphia. And we learned a huge amount from folks there who have been doing this work in their communities for years if not decades, like Ruben in Columbus who runs the Central Ohio Workers Center, and Alejandro in Austin, who shared with us details about the networks they’ve been building in which community members accompany families on their way to school and work.

We’ve also been connecting #SanctuaryHomes to major organizing efforts such as GetOrganized Brooklyn, and Bay Resistance in California.

And it was great to be have so many of you with us for the pilot #SanctuaryHomes webinar we launched on International Women’s Day. We spent that day sharing (via social media) the labor that the women in our homes and lives do, especially the work of professional domestic workers.

Now we’re rolling out a set of new resources to respond to the ideas, questions and needs you’ve been sharing with us.

Check them out, spread the word, and keep telling us what you need!

We’re creating resources as you need them

Organizing and education resources

Make sure you and your employee are prepared with What Can I Do? An Employer Checklist. Find this and other resources on the updated Act Locally to help you find more organizing support, include an organizing chart to help you build out your plans.

A new Fair Care webinar

A huge part of making your home a Sanctuary right now is providing ongoing economic security and creating a fair workplace. Sign up here for next week’s webinar to find out more.

Ways to tell our stories

We’ve added a “Stories” section to the site and we want to hear from you. How are you preparing your home? What conversations are you having? How are you showing up for your employee?

Stories can move others to action and make us feel part of a bigger movement. For workers, hearing these stories can be especially emboldening.

You don’t have to use real names — we’re interested in your experience.

Want to organize? Talk to an organizer

#SanctuaryHomes is more than a petition or a hashtag — we want to make sure each of you is able to take meaningful action where you live. Need more support or have questions us? Sign up here and we’ll connect you with an organizer.

We’re in this with you and we’ll keep doing what we can to provide you with the tools you need to make the most impact you can.

Remember, if you employ a domestic worker you have a lot of power to make a real difference right there in your home. Join our webinar on March 30th to learn more about putting solidarity into practice at home.