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The Making of a “Simple Domestic:” Domestic Workers, the Supreme Court, and the Law in Postrevolutionary Mexico

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2018

Sara Hidalgo*
History Department, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA


This article examines the legal construction of domestic labor as an unskilled and undervalued occupation in postrevolutionary Mexico, a milieu that was otherwise renowned for an extraordinary expansion of workers’ rights. Based on the writing of legal scholars and legal disputes between domestic workers and their employers that reached Mexico's Supreme Court, the article discusses how a discourse that framed domestic labor as an occupation confined within the protective bounds of the household became an enduring legal formula to justify and reinforce the exclusion of domestics from labor protections recognized for other workers. In so doing, it shows how Supreme Court jurisprudence ultimately redefined the criteria for delimiting this large occupational category based on what was understood as its particular spatialization (the indoor household space) and its distinctive temporalization (guided by family needs instead of production demands). Designating workers who fit these criteria as “simple domestics,” the Court erased any professional specialization among them, marginalizing this overwhelmingly female workforce from other service workers, such as doormen and private drivers, who had previously been considered “domestic.”

Copyright © International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc. 2018 

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I wish to thank Paul Katz, Alfonso Salgado, Marianne González Le Saux, Rachel Nolan, Jessica Mack, Sueann Caulfield, and the participants of the Columbia Latin American History Workshop for their invaluable feedback on this article. I am particularly grateful to the two anonymous reviewers and the editor at ILWCH for their insightful comments and suggestions. I also wish to thank Nara Milanich, Pablo Piccato, and Ada Ferrer for their feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. The research for this article was made possible thanks to the funding provided by Fulbright-García Robles.



1. See for example, Delphy, Christine, Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women's Oppression (London, 1984)Google Scholar. For a recent examination of household workers’ organizing strategies, see the articles in Nadasen, Premila and Boris, Eileen, eds., “Historicizing Domestic Labor: Resistance and Organizing,” International Labor and Working-Class History 88 (2015): 410Google Scholar.

2. On the Constitution, see Niemeyer, E. Victor, Revolution at Querétaro: The Mexican Constitutional Convention of 1916–1917 (Austin, 1974)Google Scholar. On the role of labor during and after the Revolution see Carr, Barry, El movimiento obrero y la política en México, 1910–1929 (México, 1976)Google Scholar; Lear, John, Workers, Neighbors, and Citizens: The Revolution in Mexico City (Lincoln, NE, 2001)Google Scholar; Middlebrook, Kevin J., The Paradox of Revolution: Labor, the State, and Authoritarianism in Mexico (Baltimore, MD, 1995)Google Scholar; Knight, Alan, “The Working Class and the Mexican Revolution, C. 1900–1920,” Journal of Latin American Studies 16 (1984): 5179CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3. In recent years, historians of Latin America have examined how central domestic service was in structuring social relationships in the region. See the articles in Olcott, Jocelyn, Andrews, George Reid, and de la Fuente, Alejandro, eds., “Labors of Love: Production and Reproduction in Latin American History,” Hispanic American Historical Review, 91 (2011): 127CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Arrom, Silvia, The Women of Mexico City, 1790–1857 (Stanford, CA, 1985)Google Scholar; Premo, Bianca, Children of the Father King: Youth, Authority, & Legal Minority in Colonial Lima (Chapel Hill, NC, 2005)Google Scholar; Milanich, Nara B., Children of Fate: Childhood, Class, and the State in Chile, 1850–1930 (Durham, NC, 2009)Google Scholar; Lima, Henrique Espada, “Wages of Intimacy: Domestic Workers Disputing Wages in the Higher Courts of Nineteenth-Century Brazil,” International Labor and Working Class History, 88 (2015): 1129CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Blum, Ann S., Domestic Economies: Family, Work, and Welfare in Mexico City, 1884–1943 (Lincoln, NE, 2009)Google Scholar; Blum, Ann S., “Cleaning the Revolutionary Household: Domestic Servants and Public Welfare in Mexico City, 1900–1935,” Journal of Women's History 15 (2004): 6790CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hutchison, Elizabeth Q., Labors Appropriate to Their Sex: Gender, Labor, and Politics in Urban Chile, 1900–1930 (Durham, NC, 2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Chaney, Elsa, Castro, Mary Garcia, and Smith, Margo L., eds., Muchachas No More: Household Workers in Latin America and the Caribbean (Philadelphia, PA, 1989)Google Scholar.

4. Alvarado, Salvador, Decretos de Salvador Alvarado, del 2 al 71 (Mérida, 1915)Google Scholar, Decreto número 20; On Salvador Alvarado, see Joseph, Gilbert, Revolution from Without: Yucatán, Mexico, and the United States, 1880–1924. Durham, NC, 1988Google Scholar. On Alvarado's gender ideology, see Smith, Stephanie J., Gender and the Mexican Revolution: Yucatán Women & the Realities of Patriarchy (Chapel Hill, NC, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On how Alvarado's reforms affected domestic workers, see Pérez, Emma, “‘She has Served Others in More Intimate Ways’: The Domestic Servant Reform in Yucatán, 1915–1918,” in Las Obreras: Chicana Politics of Work and Family, ed. Ruiz, Vicki L. (Los Angeles, 1993), 4164Google Scholar.

5. Niemeyer, Revolution at Querétaro; Alberto Trueba Urbina, El artículo 123 (México, 1943).

6. Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (México, 1917)Google Scholar, Article 123. Italics mine.

7. Shortly afterwards, in 1918, the state of Veracruz, where labor effervescence was high, passed the first state labor code following the guidelines stipulated by Article 123, entitling domestics to the same rights as other workers and even promising them some additional benefits. Ley del Trabajo del Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz-Llave. (Orizaba, México, 1918)Google Scholar, Capítulo 5.

8. The notion of separate spheres was not unique to Mexico. As a well-established body of literature has shown, arguments of this kind were also mobilized elsewhere to argue either for the expansion or curtailment of women's rights during this period. For a discussion about its origins and uses, see Kerber, Linda K., “Separate Spheres, Female Words, Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History,” in No More Separate Spheres! A next wave American studies reader, ed. Davidson, Cathy N. and Hatcher, Jessamyn (Durham, NC, 2002): 2965CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Olsen, Frances E., “The Family and the Market: A Study of Ideology and Legal Reform,” Harvard Law Review 96 (1987): 1,497–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9. On the Federal Labor Law, see Suarez-Potts, William J., The Making of Law: The Supreme Court and Labor Legislation in Mexico, 1875–1931 (Stanford, CA, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, chapter 8; on the Social Security Law see Dion, Michelle L., Workers and Welfare: Comparative Institutional Change in Twentieth-Century Mexico (Pittsburgh, PA, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10. Domestic labor and homework were traditionally feminized occupations. According to the 1930 census, 70.8 percent of those classified as domestic workers were women (INEGI, Quinto Censo de Población 1930). Although the census does not include data for homework, labor authorities recognized this as a feminine occupation epitomized by the seamstresses who sewed garments at home for meager commissions. During the 1930s, they engaged in several efforts to extend labor protections to seamstresses engaged in outwork. In a way, the exclusion of homework from the Social Security Law reversed these efforts. See Porter, Working Women in Mexico City, 32–38, 185.

11. When the provisions concerning domestic labor in the Federal Labor Law were voted on in the summer of 1931, Congressmen approved them unanimously and without further comment. See Diario de los Debates de la Legislatura XXXIV, Año I, Período Extraordinario, Número de Diario 16, July 23, 1931. On the brief discussion regarding these exclusions before the Social Security Law was passed, see Diario de los Debates de la XXXVIII Legislatura, Año III, Período Ordinario, December 23, 1942.

12. In an agrarian country with an incipient industry and labor movement, the Constitution's expansive provisions on workers’ welfare can be seen, as historian Alan Knight has suggested, as an exercise in “utopian legislation.” Indeed, the enactment of the Constitution at the peak of the civil war represented Carranza's attempt to legitimize his rule as he faced the challenge of the more radical revolutionary factions. Alan Knight, The Mexican Revolution, vol. 2, 470–72.

13. In their effort to consolidate control over competing regional forces during the 1920s, national politicians relied on the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (CROM) for political and electoral support. Unlike other strands of trade unionism that espoused anarcho-syndicalist tactics, Morones, CROM's leader, was a moderate and a pragmatic willing to accept government patronage and resources in exchange for political support. These tactics made CROM the largest and most powerful labor federation during the 1920s. See Caulfield, Norman, Mexican Workers and the State: From the Porfiriato to NAFTA (Fort Worth, TX, 1998)Google Scholar.

14. This situation was possible thanks to the weakened position in which CROM found itself in the aftermath of the Great Depression, when the law was enacted. The government made Aaron Sáenz, the Secretary of Industry, Commerce, and Labor and soon-to-be sugar mogul, who was perceived as a sympathizer of industrial interests, responsible for the legal project. Still, business was not entirely satisfied with the law that emerged because the government still had to accommodate CROM, and could not contravene the constitutional mandates of Article 123, which employers deemed excessive. See Suárez-Potts, The Making of Law, 252–53. See also Hamilton, Nora, The Limits of State Autonomy: Post-Revolutionary Mexico (Princeton, NJ, 1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15. The party was founded in 1929 by Plutarco Elías Calles as the Partido Nacional Revolucionario (PNR). Leadership changed the party's statutes and name twice thereafter: to Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (PRM) in 1938, and to Partido Revolucionario Institutcional (PRI)—its current name—in 1946. For recent discussion on the nature of Mexico's one-party rule, see Gilingham, Paul and Smith, Benjamin, eds., Dictablanda: Politics, Work, and Culture in Mexico, 1938–1968 (Durham, NC, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16. The creation of IMSS was crucial in the making of what historian Michael Snodgrass has called the “golden age of Charrismo,” an era spanning from the 1940s to the 1970s in which, at the expense of union democracy and independence, Mexico's national government cultivated compliant union bosses and provided workers real material gains with little need for violence. Michael Snodgrass, “The Golden Age of Charrismo: Workers, Braceros, and the Political Machinery of Post-Revolutionary Mexico,” in Dictablanda, 175–95. See also Farfán, Guillermo, Los orígenes del Seguro Social en México: un enfoque neoinstitucionalista histórico (México, 2009)Google Scholar; Medina, Luis, Del Cardenismo al Avilacamachismo (México, 1978)Google Scholar.

17. On the changing relationship between Mexico's national government and the labor movement, see Basurto, Jorge, La clase obrera en la historia de México. Del Avilacamachismo al Alemanismo (1940–1952) (México, 1984)Google Scholar; Medina, Del Cardenismo al Avilacamachismo; de Brody, Olga Pellicer and Reyna, José Luis, El afianzamiento de la estabilidad política (México, 1978)Google Scholar.

18. The law established that the president and his appointed IMSS director should use a set of technical guidelines to direct the expansion of coverage. Although expansion often responded to political pressures, even these technical guidelines prioritized coverage of industrial and male-dominated sectors. Authorities likely presumed IMSS would allocate benefits from a breadwinning man to his dependent wife and children, and that most women would be covered by their working husbands. Under this logic, as Nichole Sanders has shown, women without breadwinning men were welcomed in the poverty-relief programs of the Secretaría de Asistencia Pública. Gender and Welfare in Mexico: The Consolidation of a Postrevolutionary State (University Park, PA, 2011)Google Scholar. For how similar gendered assumptions organized welfare provision in other contexts see Gordon, Linda, ed., Women, the State, and Welfare (Madison, WI, 1990)Google Scholar; Pedersen, Susan, Family, Dependence, and the Origins of the Welfare State: Britain and France, 1914–1945 (New York, 1993)Google Scholar; Kessler-Harris, Alice, In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in 20th-Century America (New York, 2001)Google Scholar; Rosemblatt, Karin Alejandra, Gendered Compromises: Political Cultures and the State in Chile, 1920–1950 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2000)Google Scholar.

19. Along with Salvador Trueba Urbina, these jurists are still regarded as the champions of labor law doctrine in Mexico. See del Buen, Néstor, “Prólogo,” in Temas selectos de derecho laboral, ed. Villalobos, Kurczyn and Tena, Rafael Suck (Mexico City, 2014), ixGoogle Scholar.

20. Castorena, Jesús Jesús, Tratado de Derecho Obrero (México, 1942), 285, 413Google Scholar.

21. As Olívia Maria Gomes da Cunha has pointedly argued for Brazil, the household reproduced rather than erased class, race, and gender-based distinctions of the outside world. Learning to Serve: Intimacy, Morality, and Violence,” Hispanic American Historical Review 88 (2008): 455–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

22. Goldsmith, “De sirvientas a trabajadoras”; Goldsmith, , “Sindicato de trabajadoras domésticas en México: (1920–1950),” Política y Cultura, 1 (1992), 83Google Scholar.

23. In 1937, for example, an all-women union in Veracruz that demanded better conditions for household cooks in Veracruz used the network of the national suffragist movement to ask President Cárdenas for union recognition and support. See Olcott, Jocelyn, Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico (Durham, NC, 2005), 116CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

24. Paula Alegría, “Aplicación del Seguro Social a los trabajadores domésticos,” Trabajo y Previsión Social, June 1942.

25. Mario de la Cueva, the most renowned among these jurists, alternated his academic work with senior posts in the federal administration. He was a high official in Mexico's Supreme Court under President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940), and in subsequent administrations he served as President of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board and dean of UNAM. He also served as mentor to various generations of Mexico's power elite, among which we can count public intellectuals, public servants, an attorney general, and a future President. See Camp, Roderic Ai, Mexico's Mandarins: Crafting a Power Elite for the Twentieth-First century (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 2002)Google Scholar, 131; Testimonios sobre Mario de la Cueva (México City, 1982) and Palabras del doctor Jorge Carpizo en el Homenaje por el centenario del natalicio del doctor Mario de la Cueva,” Boletín Mexicano de Derecho Comparado, vol. 35, núm. 104 (2002): 623–34Google Scholar.

26. Jessica Mack, “Defining Autonomy: Commitments and Freedoms at Mexico's National University, 1923–1933,” Paper presented at the Latin American Studies Association Congress, Lima, Peru, April 29, 2017.

27. On the influence of jurist Mario de la Cueva over various generations of Mexican intellectuals, politicians, and lawyers, see Testimonios sobre Mario de la Cueva.

28. See Middlebrook, The Paradox of Revolution, 56, 59; Hernández, Sonia, Working Women into the Borderlands (College Station, TX, 2014)Google Scholar, chapter 5; Galvarriato, Aurora Gómez, Industry and Revolution: Social and Economic Change in the Orizaba Valley, Mexico (Cambridge, MA, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, chapter 6.

29. Historians of Mexico have barely paid attention to the ways in which local labor tribunals have operated. So far, our understanding has come from legal historians studying the relationship between labor tribunals and the Supreme Court (see note 30). Middlebrook has examined the operation of the Federal Arbitration and Conciliation Board, which functioned in a similar way but had jurisdiction over industries of “national importance” only—such as oil, railroads, and mining. There is also some work from economists and political scientists that study the operation of labor boards in contemporary Mexico. See Middlebrook, The Paradox of Revolution; Kaplan, David S., Sadka, Joyce, and Silva-Mendez, Jorge Luis, “Litigation and Settlement: New Evidence from Labor Courts in Mexico,” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 5 (2008): 309–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Middlebrook, Kevin J. and Ramírez, Cirila Quintero, “Las juntas locales de Conciliación y Arbitraje en México: registro sindical y solución de conflictos en los noventa,” Estudios Sociológicos 16 (1998): 283316Google Scholar.

30. Only recently have historians begun to evaluate the crucial role that the Supreme Court played in consolidating the ample social rights promised by the Revolution. In the years after the 1917 Constitution was enacted, the Supreme Court tended to deny the authority of labor boards under the argument that, by conferring judicial powers to the executive branch, boards contravened the constitutional separation of powers. In practice, the Court's unwillingness to recognize the authority of labor boards hindered the enforcement of the provisions of Article 123. This tendency was reversed in 1924, after a Congress controlled by President Álvaro Obregón (1920–1924) dissolved the old court and appointed a new body of justices whose rulings recognized labor boards’ power to adjudicate all work-related matters, making them “more effective in terms of vindicating social provisions for workers.” James, “Liberal Jurisprudence, Labor Tribunals, and Mexico's Supreme Court, 1917–1924”; see also Suarez-Potts, William J., “The Mexican Supreme Court and the Juntas de Conciliación y Arbitraje, 1917–1924: The Judicialisation of Labour Relations after the Revolution,” Journal of Latin American Studies 41 (2009): 723–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31. The cases analyzed were the result of a search of all cases involving domestic service among these tesis between 1917 and 1970. I focused on cases regarding the interpretation of labor legislation, disregarding the Court's opinions in cases that involved domestic servants in other branches of law. As far as I know, there is no comprehensive catalog of Supreme Court records after 1917, but the Court's opinions are periodically collected in the Semanario Judicial de la Federación. When an opinion was concerned with domestic workers’ labor rights, I visited the Supreme Court's historical archive to access the complete record of the dispute that had prompted its tesis. Using this search methodology, I found a total of forty-nine cases that the Court resolved regarding domestic workers’ labor rights between 1931 and 1970. Because there is no comprehensive catalog, it is possible that there are some other cases involving domestic servants that reached Mexico's Supreme Court that do not appear in the Semanario, but as long as there is no catalog available to researchers, it is hard to explore this archive in a more comprehensive way.

32. My search (following the method described in note 36) yielded twenty-two cases for the 1930s, fourteen for the 1940s, nine for the 1950s, and only four for the 1960s.

33. A series of reforms during the 1920s and 1930s undermined the autonomy that the 1917 Constitution initially granted the Supreme Court, effectively making justices, according to Andrea Pozas-Loyo and Julio Ríos-Figueroa, “regime supporters.” See “The Transformation of the Role of the Mexican Supreme Court,” in Judicial Politics in Mexico: The Supreme Court and the Transition to Democracy, ed. Andrea Castagnola and Saúl López Noriega (New York and London: Routledge, 2016), 23. See also Domingo, Pilar, “Judicial Independence: The Politics of the Supreme Court in Mexico,” Journal of Latin American Studies 32 (2000): 705–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34. As jurist Mario de la Cueva reflected some years later, this chamber had adapted “to the social and political conditions the country lived under President Cárdenas.” Rafael Quintana Miranda, “Creación de la Cuarta Sala de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de La Nación en el periodo de La Quinta Época del Semanario de Justicia de la Federación,” in Temas selectos de derecho laboral, 463–76.

35. Throughout the 1940s, the Court exhibited less inclination to recognize the legality of strikes, but organized labor repudiated what came to be known as the “tesis Corona” as an unfair attempt to curtail the right to strike. Proposed by Justice Luis Corona in 1948, the “tesis Corona” argued that the relationship between employer and employee could not be unequal under the existence of a collective labor contract, which nullified the conditions for a legal strike. As the case was discussed in Mexico's highest court, an outraged labor movement mobilized a campaign to defend the right to strike and was in the end rejected by a small margin. Acevedo, Lucio Cabrera, La Suprema Corte de Justicia durante el Gobierno del General Manuel Ávila Camacho, 1940–1946 (México, 2000)Google Scholar; Basurto, Del Avilacamachismo al Alemanismo (1940–1952).

36. One can only help but wonder, for example, who was in charge of preparing and serving the lavish banquets that jurist Mario de la Cueva was famous for hosting at his home, as one student of his remembered in a homage that the National University held in the jurist's memory. See “Palabras del doctor Jorge Carpizo en el Homenaje por el Centenario del Natalicio del doctor Mario de la Cueva,” 631.

37. As historian Jocelyn Olcott has shown, while Cárdenas had vowed to protect and uplift women, his attention was mostly geared towards women employed in the industrial sector. But little was devoted to the higher numbers of women working in residential households and the service sector more broadly. See Miracle Workers: Gender and State Mediation among Textile and Garment Workers in Mexico's Transition to Industrial Development,” International Labor and Working-Class History, 63 (2003): 4562Google Scholar.

38. Moya, José, “Domestic Service in a Global Perspective: Gender, Migration, and Ethnic Niches,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33 (2007): 559579CrossRefGoogle Scholar; For Mexico, see Blum, Domestic Economies. For comparison with Brazil, see Graham, Sandra Lauderdale, House and Street: The Domestic World of Servants and Masters in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro (Austin, TX, 1992)Google Scholar.

39. Código Civil del Distrito Federal y Territorio de la Baja California (México: 1870)Google Scholar, title 13, chapter 1.

40. These measures were supposed to guarantee the morality and honesty of servants, “indoctrinating them and improving their condition.” “Bando publicado por el Sr. Gobernador del Distrito Federal el 6 de abril de 1852,” in Memoria de los Ramos Municipales, presentada por D. Ignacio Trigueros (México City, 1866). For similarities with Brazil see Graham, House and Street, 123.

41. Cited in Niemeyer, Revolution at Querétaro, 65–66. Múgica's support towards labor organizing would become patent during his governorship of Michoacán in 1920–1921 and as member of President Lázaro Cárdenas’ cabinet between 1934–1939. See Medina, Del Cardenismo al Avilacamachismo.

42. Niemeyer, Revolution at Querétaro, 66.

43. See Milanich, Nara, “Degrees of Bondage: Children's Tutelary Servitude in Modern Latin America,” in Child Slaves in the Modern World, ed. Campell, Gwyn, Miers, Suzanne, and Miller, Joseph C. (Athens, GA, 2011), 108Google Scholar. On this long-lasting practice, see also Blum, Domestic Economies; Premo, Children of the Father King; Milanich, “Women, Children, and the Social Organization of Domestic Labor in Chile.”

44. Mary Goldsmith has documented the existence of these unions, but there has been little research done on their internal workings and culture, bargaining strategies, or their relationship to labor federations. See “Sindicato de Trabajadoras Domésticas,” 83.

45. Ley federal de trabajo de 1931, chapter VI, article 129. The Chilean national labor legislation made a similar distinction. See Hutchison, , Labors Appropriate to Their Sex: Gender, Labor, and Politics in Urban Chile, 1900–1930 (Durham, NC, 2001), 215CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

46. Ley federal del trabajo de 1931, chapter I, article 26.

47. Ibid., chapter VI, article 130.

48. Ibid., article 131.

49. De la Cueva, Derecho mexicano del trabajo (México,1938), 739.

50. Amparo directo en materia de trabajo, 558/37 (June 15, 1937), AHSCJN.

51. Semanario Judicial de la Federación (hereafter SJN), LII: 2144 (1937). During the following decades, domestic workers continued to claim the difference between their wage and the minimum wage in labor tribunals, usually after being dismissed by their employers, and some of these cases reached the Supreme Court via the amparo recourse. In its rulings on the issue, the Court continued to deny this benefit to household workers over the following decades. See, for example, SJF, Quinta Época, LIV: 2621 (1937); SJF, Quinta Época, LXIII: 3712 (1940); SJF, Quinta Época, LXXII: 5702 (1942); SJF, Quinta Época, C:363 (1949); SJF, Quinta Época, CXVI: 451 (1953).

52. This case is somewhat different from other Court rulings in that it mentions that even if the worker, as a domestic, was not entitled to the minimum wage, in his specific case the employer could not count the room in which the domestic lived as a portion of his wages, because his job entailed taking care of the estate, which he would be unable to do without living there. This appreciation, however, did not have any legal consequence, as the sentence ruled that, as a domestic, the worker was not entitled to the minimum wage. Amparo directo, 2391/42 (July 30, 1942).

53. 14756/33 (July 8, 1933), AHSCJN.

54. 13295/33 (May 26, 1933), AHSCJN.

55. See 13295/32 (May 26, 1933), AHSCJN;13295/3 (May 26, 1933), AHSCJN; 1679/33 (November 21, 1933), AHSCJN; 2934/33 (November 22, 1933), AHSCJN; 2322/34 (October 9, 1934), AHSCJN; 6351/34 (November 19, 1935), AHSCJN. There is only one case I found in which justices applied the same reasoning to the case of a worker they classified as “domestic.” See Amparo directo, 2391/42 in note 57.

56. 6588/40 (March 20, 1940), AHSCJN.

57. On the innovation of timed labor in industrial Britain and its contrast with task-oriented work, see Thompson, E. P., “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,” Past & Present 38 (1967): 5697CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

58. Mario de la Cueva, Derecho mexicano del trabajo, 738.

59. Código civil del Distrito Federal y territorio de la Baja California (México: 1870), title 13, chapter 1, article 2,557. The code also regulated domestic servants’ fixed-time contracts, for example, of wet-nurses or servants hired to aid an employer during a trip, stipulating that the contract was valid until the completion of the task. See title 13, chapter 1, articles 2,554 and 2,555.

60. Castorena, Tratado de derecho obrero, 281.

61. Ibid., 413, 285.

62. Ibid., 281.

63. See, for example, SJF, Quinta Época, LIV: 2621 (1937); SJF, Quinta Época, LXIII: 3712 (1940); SJF, Quinta Época, LXXII: 5702 (1942); SJF, Quinta Época, C:363 (1949); SJF, Quinta Época, CXVI: 451 (1953). See also Amparo directo, 2391/42 (July 30, 1942).

64. SJN, Quinta Época, XCVIII:  675 (1948).

65. Amparo directo, 4606/60 (March 8, 1961), AHSCJN.

66. See SJF, Sexta Época, XLV, Quinta Parte: 18 (1961). This ruling echoed the position of the Union of Private Chauffeurs, which had, in the 1940s, expressed its discontent with the fact that private drivers were excluded from important labor rights under the argument that they were domestic workers. This notion, they argued, lacked any “empirical or logical base … since there was no relationship between the tasks of cleaning and assistance inside the household with their work driving an automobile in the streets, avenues and highways.” See “Replica a una tesis jurídica,” El Nacional, August 25, 1944.

67. 6914/36 (May 11, 1937), AHSCJN; 1241/36 (July 16, 1937), AHSCJN; 1954/37 (October 22, 1937), AHSCJN; 3901/38, AHSCJN. (October 14, 1937); 5405/38 (October 26, 1938).

68. Gloria Brenda Leff Zimmerman, “Algunas características de las empleadas domésticas y su ubicación en el mercado de trabajo de la ciudad de México,” Undergraduate thesis, (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México City, 1973).

69. Amparo directo, 8609/41 (1942), AHSCJN.

70. Ibid.

71. Amparo en revisión en materia de trabajo, 6498/51 (June 5, 1952), AHSCJN.

72. SJF, Quinta Época, CXII: 1261, (June 5, 1952).

73. See, supra, the dispute between Alfredo Sosa and Miguel García.

74. “Las sirvientas domesticas de Veracruz, se organizan,” El Nacional, September 23,1938; “Sindicato de ‘Gatitas’,” El Nacional, September 26, 1938; “El pavoroso problema de las domésticas,” La Prensa, April 15, 1939; “El salario de las criadas”, El Nacional, March 25,1942; “El Caso de las Cocineras”, Excélsior, May 1, 1943; Ángeles Mendieta Alatorre, “Las sirvientas: auténtica esclavitud en el siglo XX,” El Nacional, June 4, 1958; “La sirvientas, desprotegidas,” El Nacional, October 9, 1969; Paula Alegría, “Aplicación del Seguro Social a los trabajadores domésticos.”

75. While postrevolutionary politicians tended to subscribe to an ideal model of female domesticity, during the 1920s and 1930s, this ideal was confronted by feminist groups who defended the women's suffrage and civic participation on the basis of equality rather than difference. These voices waned significantly by the 1940s, after the failed attempt to get the vote.  Buck, Sarah A., “The Meaning of the Women's Vote in Mexico, 1917–1953,” in The Women's Revolution in Mexico, ed. Mitchell, Stephanie, and Schell, Patience A. (Lanham, MD, 2007), 107–43Google Scholar; Olcott, Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico; Stephanie J. Smith, Gender and the Mexican Revolution; Gabriela Cano, “Una ciudadanía igualitaria: el Presidente Lázaro Cárdenas y el sufragio femenino,” Desdeldiez, 1995, 69–116.

76. “Women and the Home in Mexican Family Law,” in Hidden Stories of Gender and the State in Latin America, ed. Elizabeth Dore and Maxine Molyneaux (Durham, NC, 2000): 238–26.

77. See ILO's Convention No. 189, “Decent Work for Domestic Workers,” adopted in 2011.

78. See Olcott, Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico; Gauss, Susan M., “Working Class Masculinity and the Rationalized Sex: Gender and Industrial Modernization in the Textile Industry in Post-Revolutionary Puebla,” in  Sex in Revolution: Gender, Politics, and Power in Modern Mexico, ed. Olcott, Jocelyn, Vaughan, Mary Kay and Cano, Gabriela (Durham, NC, 2006): 181196CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fowler-Salamini, Heather, Working Women, Entrepreneurs, and the Mexican Revolution: The Coffee Culture of Cordoba, Veracruz. (Lincoln, NE, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For comparison, see how São Paulo industrialists during the mid-twentieth century attempted to render the workplace more “humane” in an effort to promote industrial harmony. Weinstein, Barbara, For Social Peace in Brazil: Industrialists and the Remaking of the Working Class in São Paulo, 1920–1964 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1996)Google Scholar.

79. Recent scholarship on women's labor has shown how gender plays a key role in defining skill. See Baron, Ava, ed., Work Engendered: Toward a New History of American Labor 1 (Ithaca, NY, 1991)Google Scholar; Baron, Ava, “Questions of Gender: Deskilling and Demasculinization in the U.S. Printing Industry, 1830–1915,” Gender & History 1 (1989): 178–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Phillips, Anne and Taylor, Barbara, “Sex and Skill: Notes towards a Feminist Economics,” Feminist Review (1980): 7988CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On the gendered definition of skill in Mexico's textile industry, see Jocelyn Olcott, “Miracle Workers;” for a similar process in Colombia, see Farnsworth-Alvear, Ann, Dulcinea in the Factory: Myths, Morals, Men, and Women in Colombia's Industrial Experiment, 1905–1960 (Durham, NC, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

80. The new law now made the employer responsible for “cooperating in the general instruction on the domestic worker,” and added that the room provided should be clean and the food “healthy and satisfactory.” No maximum working hours were set, although this time the code added that the employer should allow the domestic enough time to eat and rest nightly. It also stipulated that local Juntas would set a regional minimum wage for domestic service that would be different from the minimum wage of regular workers. However, as long as the Juntas did not establish this minimum wage—and they never did—the provisions on minimum wage would not apply. Ley federal del trabajo 1970, Capítulo XIII, as published in Diario Oficial de la Federación, Mexico City, April 1, 1970.

81. For a striking example of how this discourse has survived into the 21st century, see Estavillo, Juan José Ríos, Derechos de los trabajadores domésticos (Mexico City, 2000)Google Scholar.