Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Jennifer Fish

Committee Member

David Earnest

Committee Member

Erika Frydenlund


This thesis explores how domestic worker trade unions’ functions have experienced a shift in their priorities as a result of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convention 189, which standardizes rights for domestic workers worldwide. The adoption of this policy has diverted local unions’ efforts away from their original goals of mobilizing workers in this marginalized sector to focus instead on implementing this international policy. I argue that this shift reflects a larger tension where goals defined by international governance institutions and the dynamics of a larger transnational movement collide with the objectives and aspirations of a once autonomous grassroots trade union. With the help of international funding made available through transnational partnerships formed at the ILO, worker bodies are no longer defined solely by their advocacy, but have also become key implementers of the international institutions that crafted the Convention and quickly have become primary stakeholders. In this thesis, I focus on how union functions are affected by the involvement of funders and the rising visibility the domestic workers movement has gained by participation in the ILO conference on domestic labor.


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