California Domestic Workers Demand Bill of Rights
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California Domestic Workers Demand Bill of Rights

October 17, 2019

DYAN RUIZ: In California, advocates, workers,
and politicians are trying to pass into law a bill that protects the rights of domestic
workers. MARIA LEAL: The message I want to give to
the governor is that on this occasion he needs to support us and our bill of rights, because
it is extremely important for us as domestic workers to pass this bill, because we need
breaks, we need lunch, we need an increase in pay. We need many things. I can’t imagine
that it would be a challenge for him to support us. RUIZ: Advocates held a Mother’s Day brunch,
inviting lawmakers to commit support for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Rights and
protections for domestic workers are excluded from existing labour laws. They’re often paid
less than minimum wage, working without breaks and other basic rights. There are an estimated
200,000 domestic workers in California, including nannies, house cleaners, and caregivers. KATIE JOAQUIN: Right now in California, there’s
domestic workers that remain excluded from the most basic of protections. We’re talking
about overtime, the right to have a meal break, the right to have a rest break. And this is
traced all the way back to 1938, you know, when the first federal labor law was passed
and domestic workers were left out, along with farm workers. And this is because, you
know, the African Americans who at the time were the domestic workers and were the people
working in the fields were still being discriminated against. You know. And there were Southern
lawmakers that didn’t want to open the doors of equality to them. And to this day, domestic
workers are still the ones that are left behind. And so there are some domestic workers that
are caring for the elderly, caring for people with disabilities, caring for children, and
they’re still not having protections to be able to have a rest break after four hours
of work. And so this bill is about really fixing that. And so we feel like this bill
is a basic thing that isn’t even reaching for the sky, it’s not reaching too high. It’s
asking for basic human rights for people that do really important work for California. RUIZ: Assembly member Tom Ammiano is the author
of Assembly Bill 241 that provides basic rights for domestic workers. TOM AMMIANO: In many ways it’s a women’s issue,
a very strong women’s issue, obviously an immigrants rights issue, and here in California,
not exclusively, but a Latino issue, because we have many domestic workers who are Filipino
and Asian, also African American. So the idea that someone can work isolated in someone
else’s house and not have any rights other than dealing with their employer, most likely
they’re low-income, they need that job even if it’s a pittance of a pay, they’re afraid
they’ll be deported and they’ve been threatened with that if they don’t stay on and ignore
their own family, you know, my thinking is it’s kind of like plantation politics. RUIZ: Senator Leland Yee says the bill has
advantages for workers and employers. LELAND YEE: What it also does is to establish
a formal relationship between the employer and employee, so that you don’t have a situation
where the employee, the domestic worker, is scratching his or her head and says, well,
gee, you know, what is it that the employer is supposed to do for me? What are the terms
and conditions of this particular employment? And then on the other side, for the employer,
you know, they don’t have to scratch their head and says, well, what is it that I am
expecting from them. And so there’s some clarity in that relationship–working conditions,
salaries, you know, all kinds of other things that go on with any relationship between an
employer and employee. RUIZ: Meg Yardley is a parent who relies on
domestic workers and supports the bill. MEG YARDLEY: I can’t imagine what I’d have
to do if I had to make a choice between, you know, being at home and going to work, ’cause
I love the work that I do. So I think for me, you know, knowing that my daughter is
in good hands, that she’s being taken care of, that somebody is looking after her and
giving her love and attention and all of that means that I can go to work and do my job,
which I also really love, you know, without worrying about my daughter’s care and about
what’s happening to her. RUIZ: Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a
similar bill in 2011. It was passed by the Assembly and Senate, but vetoed by Governor
Jerry Brown. AMMIANO: We need the governor to change his
mind. Apparently he has very strong personal feelings that in some ways this issue is a
trivial issue. While the Bill passed out of both Houses, he still vetoed it. So we have
resubmitted the bill. We are ready to negotiate and accommodate. He has not extended us the
courtesy of a meeting, ?a personal meeting,? which is protocol around here. So we’re working
with his aides, but he’s really the guy. RUIZ: In an April 24 hearing, individual home
care companies and advocacy group California Association for Health Services at Home, or
CAHSAH, said the bill would, quote, “drastically increase the costs of home care and make live-in
care completely unaffordable,” especially for the elderly and disabled. Thus, clients
would turn to an underground economy. YARDLEY: I understand the concerns people
have about pay, because it is really difficult to afford good care. But I also think that
we can’t, you know, make that decision on the backs of domestic workers. I think any
parent can probably tell you that they’re a better parent when they’ve have meal and
rest breaks, you know, when you’ve had enough sleep, when you’ve had a chance to eat something
or sit down for a few minutes, when you’re not overly stressed about money or how to
get by, when you’re being fairly paid, when you don’t have to work long hours. You know,
I certainly know I’m a better parent when all of those conditions are met. So that makes
me believe that I want my childcare provider to have the same conditions, because I think
that they’re going to provide better care for my child. So, you know, I think that this
is really about trying to find a win-win, where we can have quality care for our children
and our families, but also provide, you know, dignity and respect and rights for the people
that are providing the care. RUIZ: A report distributed that day called
Home Economics surveyed over 2,000 domestic workers nationally. The research team included
the National Domestic Workers Alliance, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Data Center. It
documents serious and widespread mistreatment and exploitation of domestic workers throughout
the U.S. Guillermina Castellanos worked extensively on the report. GUILLERMINA CASTELLANOS: For those of us who
work with domestic workers, showing this report has given us a legitimacy that we didn’t have
before. Now when we do legislative visits, we give this report to legislators and it
gives us confidence. The report also helped involve other organizations in the fight for
domestic workers rights. It strengthened organizations across the country, which is an important
goal of the national alliance. This is historic in a country that has never talked about domestic
workers. For us, it’s extremely important to have a report of this magnitude that talks
about the experience of domestic workers. RUIZ: Critical votes for the Bill of Rights
in California are coming up. A similar bill is now a law in New York, and seven states,
including California, are moving to pass similar measures. This is part of a national domestic
workers rights campaign. Many domestic workers are mothers themselves and want nothing more
on this Mother’s Day than equal rights. This Dyan Ruiz for The Real News Network.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Jerry Brown isn't that progressive, what a shock. lol Hope this passes soon, overriding his fucking veto if need be!

  2. Hello: Well Sir I thought you might be talking about the people that want New World Order, complete control of We The People. Get the guns. Monsanto control of food. Their puppets in Washington D.C. The Debt that will destroy this country. Our tax money, CIA- Millions in 'Ghost Money" paid to Afghanistan. Money that maby bought guns that killed our soldiers.

  3. Take your sneaky illegal asses back to Mexico, and demand rights there. You are not citizens of this country, and have no employment rights here. None.

  4. I get the impression that you read. Shame on you! Verifiable information has no place in our political discourse!

  5. You do realize that the world's bloodiest war is now ongoing in Northern Mexico? They are not illegal immigrants, they are refugees. They can't go back, because they fear of the Drug Cartel Warlords that are the law of land there. If you truly wan't them to stop coming here, in a way that actually works, than you must commit yourself the moral high ground of ending the war. It is American consumption of illegal drugs, and our unfair agribusiness subsidies that fuel the conflict. We need to help.

  6. So now they're "refugees" fighting for the right to unionize in the country of their benefactors that haven't offered them that status of refugee in the first place. 30 million refugees because Junior likes to smoke dope. And of course we can help them with benefits that we worked for, while they scream that the "border crossed them". Complete horseshit, in my estimation.

  7. I think people should be paid what they are worth, based on their ability to make money for their employer. I worked for a labor union in my youth, they fired me for working too fast. That is the only time I ever worked for a union.

  8. "I think people should be paid what they are worth, based on their ability to make money for their employer."
    Who decides the worth of that ability? Employers do.
    Do you know how much they are willing to pay if they find another worker who is desperate to have a job because he's been out of work for 6 months? Next to zero.
    Do you now why economy is so bad today? Because people are not spending(by having no money).
    How does your "philosophy" helps to revive the economy?

  9. Employers pay their employees based on their skills and their ability to make money for the employer. Their desperation doesn't enter into it. I tend to realistic, not philosophical, and never lacked for work in my long life. Skills, my friend, skills.

  10. And don't forget to answer how this is going to help the economy revive.
    "I think people should be paid what they are worth, based on their ability to make money for their employer."
    When you say "I think", "It should", it's no more than your opinion, unless it's followed by "because" then show some real life proof.

  11. I don't owe you a thing, goofball, I remember your silly ass from before. Why don't you explain how you think we can improve the economy, it concerns you, not me. I never lacked for work in any economy.

  12. "Why don't you explain how you think we can improve the economy,"
    Why do you wan to know if it doesn't concern you?
    Never thought about it WILL be your concern if it gets so bad like the Great Depression?
    You seem you don't want to say what you do for living even though you are proud of it. When others work cheaper and cheaper, you eventually have to follow the same path.
    Don't you see the consequence?

  13. You have got to be some special type of idiot, I'm a retired fire alarm and fire suppression systems tester and inspector, and have other trades as well. What do you do? I/m certain that you aren't an English teacher.

  14. English teacher, how the the hell can anyone answer such a illiterate question? Which drought" Pushed the price up, or down? What is the relevance of the question to the subject?

  15. Who the hell do these people think they are but they can come in our country illegally and demand us create law for them when they can't even follow the law to get in here it's not that we don't want them but they need to do it legally they need to follow the law

  16. lol allgoo perhaps you're cursed to ask questions you'll never understand the answers to.

    If employers have such awesome unbridaled power, why doesn't every worker just become an employer?

    The result of a willing trade of items or services creates a situation where both are better off than the sum of their indivdual endevours. That net gain is wealth, and what grows an economy.

  17. "lol allgoo perhaps you're cursed to ask questions you'll never understand the answers to.'
    Unanswered question,
    Your quote, "Stocks depreciate in value"
    Is it still true?

  18. "lol allgoo perhaps you're cursed"
    Isn't it humiliating to you not being able to admit some silly thing you said before? Or do you really believe in this?
    Your quote, "Stocks depreciate in value"
    What's your goal of coming in here and start talking like you are big genius yet you can't prove anything but the opposite?
    I'm very curious to know your mental state.

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