FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 6, 2011
Grecia Lima, CA Domestic Workers Coalition: 415.488.6177
Xiomara Corpena, CHIRLA, 323-606-3082
California Senate Committee Approves
Labor Rights for 200,000 Domestic Workers
Committee approves sensible clear guidelines benefiting domestic workers and employers
SACRAMENTO – Today the California Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee voted 5-2 in favor of AB 889. The bill – also known as the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, extends basic, humane labor protections to thousands of nannies, caregivers, and housecleaners and improves the quality of care for California’s families.
Sponsored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for approval. Co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Allen (D- Sonoma), Cedillo (D- LA), Ma (D- San Francisco), Fuentes (D-San Fernando), Ma (D-San Francisco), Monning (D- Santa Cruz) and Senator De Léon. The bill seeks to remove the exclusion of domestic workers from basic wage and hour protections which the vast majority of California workers already enjoy. The current exemptions for domestic workers are confusing and leave well-meaning employers vulnerable to liability. AB 889 sets industry-wide standards that will help keep the industry above-ground.
“Today’s Senate vote was a historic step forward for the rights of domestic workers in California. For decades domestic work has been excluded from both state and federal labor laws and worker exploitation in this industry has remained invisible and unmonitored. AB 889 will end that by establishing the same basic protections under the law that many of us take for granted,” said Ammiano.
“This legislation helps us to bring a critical workforce out of the shadows and into the light of day. Domestic workers must be assured the rights and protections that all California workers deserve,” said V. Manuel Pérez, chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy.
“If AB 889 were law 20 years ago,” said retired household worker Julia Quintero, ” I would not have had to endure the physical and psychological abuse from my employer. AB 889 can bring justice by mandating minimum standards for employers!”
“Today we commend Senators Lieu, Padilla, Yee, Leno and DeSaulnier for listening to the voices of their constituents and moving forward legislation to correct a historic injustice,” said Eric Greene, Southern California Regional Director of Progressive Jewish Alliance & Jewish Funds for Justice. “We thank them for their leadership in voting to extend the same basic rights and protections that many in the workplace already enjoy. Not only will this bill improve the lives of workers and their families, it will improve the lives of the families, children, elderly, and disabled who they care for and nurture every day. Protecting the health, safety and well-being of domestic workers will lead to better home care, fewer mistakes from exhaustion and less worker injury.”
The Senate Committee vote follows the passage of the bill in the California Assembly and last year’s successful passage of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York. Domestic workers have historically been exempted from laws governing the rights afforded to other workers -decent wages, a safe and healthy workplace health, workers compensation and other labor protections. Domestic workers are among the most isolated and vulnerable workforce in the state. The unique nature of their work requires protections to prevent abuse and mistreatment from occurring behind closed doors, out of the public eye. This bill provides domestic workers with industry-specific protections to use kitchen facilities and cook their own food, and creates standards for sleep, for meal and rest breaks and overtime wages.
“The Bill of Rights creates helpful guidelines for employers of domestic workers. Employers have a vested self-interest in this campaign- by working to support the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, we are investing in building communication and trust with workers who support some of the most intimate parts of our lives, providing home care to people with disabilities and elders, or caring for our children and our homes,” said Jessica Lehman, employer of a personal attendant in her home and a member of Hand in Hand: Domestic Employer Association.