Can you imagine working 24 hours straight without a lunch break?
"We are four generations of domestic workers from my great- grandmother to me. If you count our labor consecutively, we have almost 75 years in the profession, almost as many years as domestic workers in this country have been excluded from basic labor protections, " CA domestic worker, Grecia Lima.
74 years ago, American workers won the right to minimum wage, overtime pay, and at least one day of rest each week. But domestic workers were excluded from these basic protections because back then, the black women who cleaned, cooked, and cared for children were considered second class citizens.
Our country has come a long way since 1938, but our labor laws haven't kept up.
For 74 years, domestic workers have been denied the basic labor rights that so many American workers take for granted. It's time to end this shameful legacy and bring our nation's labor laws into the twenty-first century!
14 year old Maria is the eldest of four children Her mom is a domestic worker. Her employer does not like to see her sit down, and she doesn’t have time to eat during her 10 hour shift. So Maria's mom comes home hungry, with back and neck pain. Maria’s mother is never paid overtime, even when she is asked to spend the night.
Maria’s mom doesn’t want to leave her job because she cares about the children she is taking care of. But her knees are getting worse from standing 10 hours a day and she doesn’t know what she will do when she can no longer stand the pain.
Maria explains, “I know that the sacrifices that my mom makes to give us a better life, to make sure that we do well in school and we have everything we need, but I feel a great sadness when I see my mom come back from work so tired and unappreciated.”
Maria’s mom story is not every domestic worker’s story, but every domestic worker is just as vulnerable as she is. Without laws to provide guidelines for the relationship between employers and employees, all domestic workers are vulnerable to abuse.
The barista making coffee at Starbucks gets overtime pay, but the workers that care for California's elderly, children, and homes do not. This must change. Domestic Workers have been excluded from basic labor protections from more than 70 years. It is time for California to lead the way.
#BeTheHelp we need to bring California's labor laws into the twenty-first century!
#BeTheHelp is a campaign of the National Domestic Workers Alliance that encourages people like you to take simple actions that create respect, recognition and protections for domestic workers in California and across America. For more ways you can #bethehelp, visit www.domesticworkers.org.
To see California's domestic workers tell their stories in their own words, watch this short film .