Domestic workers, who are usually women, immigrants, or trafficking victims, find themselves vulnerable to labor exploitation because they are not protected by the National Labor Relations Act or the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Domestic workers tend be paid minimum wage and are not granted overtime, sick days, paid vacation, protection from discrimination, the right to organize, or other standard labor protections. They are not guaranteed advance notice of termination or the right to annual cost of living pay increases.
The New York State senate recently passed the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which ensures many more protections for the workers who care for so many of our loved ones including children and the elderly. On the heels of this victory, California also has the opportunity to level the playing field by enacting a similarly comprehensive bill of rights which seeks to eliminate discriminatory provisions in the labor code and grant domestic workers basic rights that other California workers gain through collective bargaining.
The California economy could not survive without domestic workers, people who often take on tasks and responsibilities that few others can or will. Child care workers, attendants for the elderly, and other household employees often make it possible for busy families to manage the many aspects of their lives. Yet, these workers remain largely unsupported by legislation and fall through the cracks. At its worst, the industry is full of cases of abuse, violence, and labor violations. Because so many domestic workers work in relative isolation, there is little recourse for them.
Low-income women, particularly immigrants and sometimes trafficking victims, hold many of these jobs. They are already in an insecure situation, and deserve proper protections.
Following the passage of the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, a similar bill in California would show domestic workers that we not only value their contributions; we support their legal rights. Included in the bill are the following:
- Overtime pay
- Paid sick days
- Paid vacation days
- Advance notice of termination
- Right to a safe and healthy work environment
- Right to worker's compensation
- Right to annual cost of living pay increase
California legislators can level the playing field by enacting the following comprehensive bill of rights which seeks to eliminate discriminatory provisions in the labor code and grant domestic workers basic rights that other California workers gain through collective bargaining. I strongly urge you to support this legislation.
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