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Sign The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB 889)

This petition had 205 supporters

To Governor Brown:
As scholars, we write urging you to sign AB889, the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. Many of us research and write about domestic work or related fields of labor, race, gender and immigration studies. Some  of us are also employers of nannies, personal attendants, and housekeepers. Some of us, or our family members, once worked in the care work industry. AB889 corrects an historical legal injustice, that is, extending basic labor law protections to household workers who might have benefited from Wage Order 15, but were excluded as “personal attendants” in 1976.  
First and foremost, domestic work is real work. It deserves the same protections and labor standards available to all other workers. Domestic workers are not teenage babysitters but supporters of families. They serve elderly, young, and disabled people as well as clean and cook for individual families. Their exclusion from the labor law is a legacy of slavery, segregation, and discrimination against women of color, native born and immigrant.
Second, house cleaners, those who tend to homes, come under California labor law. The regulation of domestic workers is nothing new, but certain domestic workers- nannies and caregivers- continue to be excluded.  AB 899 fills in the gap; it will allow the Department of Industrial Relations Board to adopt regulations to implement and enforce AB 889. The agency will define employer obligations regarding overtime pay, meal and rest breaks and uninterrupted sleep by hearing from all stakeholders.
Third, the charge that casual employers would be harmed is preposterous since the truly casual employer is intended to be exempt from AB 889 and the bill charges the Department of Industrial Relations with creating regulations that ensure this as well.
Fourth, the home is not a private sphere outside of the law or apart from society. Government enters the front door of our residences through sending benefits and tax rebates, through protecting us against crimes of all sorts, including domestic violence, and by mandating food and product safety for the goods and services we use.  If government can mandate criminal checks of care workers, it certainly can mandate their decent treatment by home employers.
Fifth, the regulation of domestic labor is as easy and as difficult as the regulation of any small business. To the extent that employers are educated and workers organized, then labor standards become the norm. Employers--in this case private households-- are apt to live up to the norms of the community-rather than face approbation and exposure of their wrongdoing, with subsequent penalties.
Finally, some have argued that this law invites legal trouble and that is reason not to sign it.  To us this is a spurious claim. To begin with, this law is legal. As the Supreme Court affirmed in Evelyn Coke vs. Long Island Care at Home, legislatures have the right to change the labor law to add home care and other household workers.  Furthermore, we look to our policymakers and elected officials to author and sign legislation that push our current laws to be more just and coherent.
We urge you to sign this bill and lead the way to a better day for those too long left in the shadows, those whose labor in homes makes it possible for others of us to go out to work.






Eileen Boris, UC Santa Barbara (Informational contact)


Kathleen Coll, Stanford (Informational contact)


Rina Benmayor, CSU Monterey Bay


Alisa Bierria, UC Berkeley


Kia Caldwell, UNC Chapel Hill


Piya Chatterjee, Scripps College


Deborah Cohler, San Francisco State U.


Andrea Davies, Stanford


Arlene Davila, NYU


Alice Echols, USC


Penny Eckert, Stanford


Chris Erikson, UCLA


Peter Evans, UC Berkeley


Estelle Freedman, Stanford


Susana Gallardo, San José State U.


Angela Garcia, Stanford


Barbara Harthorn, UC Santa Barbara


Tobias Higbie, UCLA


Ann Holder, Pratt Institute


Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, USC


Tera Hunter, Princeton


Aida Hurtado, UC Santa Barbara


Sanford Jacoby, UCLA


Laura Kang, UC Irvine


Keyvan Kashkooli, UCLA


Robin D. G. Kelley, UCLA


Lisa Levenstein, UNC Greensboro


Nelson Lichtenstein, UC Santa Barbara


George Lipsitz, UC Santa Barbara


Cameron Macdonald, U. of Wisconsin


Vanessa May, Seaton Hall U.


Cecilia Menjivar, Arizona State U.


Mike Messner, USC


Sonya Michel, U. of Maryland


Ruth Milkman, CUNY Graduate Center


Mireille Miller-Young, UC Santa Barbara


Premilla Nadasen, Queens College, CUNY


Laury Oaks, UC Santa Barbara


Alice O’Connor, UC Santa Barbara


Tiffany Linton Page, UC Berkeley


Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, USC


Gretchen Purser, Syracuse U.


Mary Romero, Arizona State U.


Erika Bree Rosenblum, UC Berkeley


Vicki Ruiz, UC Irvine


Leila Rupp, UC Santa Barbara


Ivan Sag, Stanford


Leslie Salzinger, UC Berkeley


Ofer Sharone, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Jenny Sharpe, UCLA


Jodi Short, UC Hastings College of Law


Lok Siu, UC Berkeley


Cinzia Solari, U. of Massachusetts, Boston


Barrie Thorne, UC Berkeley


Chris Tilly, UCLA


Sheila Tully, San Francisco State U.


Miguel Unzueta, UCLA School of Management


Barbara Voss, Stanford


Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, UC Irvine


Barbara Winslow, Brooklyn College, CUNY


Noah Zatz, UCLA Law School


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