Target: California Governor Jerry Brown
Goal: Applaud the passage of important legislation that guarantees domestic workers basic protections
The domestic work industry has long been dominated by women, especially immigrant women, who routinely are subjected to abuses including denial of overtime pay, breaks, and time off as well as unregulated hours and wages. The website of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) explains that “the exclusion of domestic workers from the National Labor Relations Act means they are unprotected when asking for respect of their basic rights and are unable to collectively bargain for conditions allowing them to labor in dignity.” In addition, their purposeful omission by Congress from the Fair Labor Standards Act means domestic workers must battle for their rights in every state. Domestic workers have been lobbying for such protections for seven years in California, where domestic work regulations dating from 1976 still had no provisions granting workers such basic labor rights as overtime because of “the outdated notion that they work as ‘a source of rewarding activity’ or ‘merely for supplemental income.'”
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who has been part of the effort, wrote up a comprehensive bill that included not only overtime compensation and regulation of hours but also guidelines for break periods for rest, meals, and sleep, and paid vacations for long-term employees in private households. Sadly these last provisions were included in early versions of the bill that didn’t make it to the desk of Governor Brown or were vetoed upon arrival. However, the recently passed bill, which Governor Brown did just sign, explicitly defines domestic work and domestic work occupations, including “childcare providers, caregivers of people with disabilities, sick, convalescing, or elderly persons, house cleaners, housekeepers, maids, and other household occupations.” Furthermore, it provides important wage protections and overtime compensation, which will go a long way in preventing employers from taking advantage of domestic workers.
By signing this petition, you are thanking Governor Brown for making California the third state to add vital domestic worker rights to their laws, after New York and Hawaii. You are encouraging him to support even more comprehensive regulations and protections the next time they pass by his desk.
Dear Governor Brown,
I am so excited to read about California’s new law elucidating domestic work and related occupations, and securing protections for domestic workers who have too long suffered without basic labor rights such as overtime compensation, access to sufficient break time, and regulated hours. Because many domestic workers are immigrant women, they are often taken advantage of by employers who know that they have no legal protections and that they might not be able to fully understand certain implications of job contracts due to English being a second language, and this phenomenon occurs all over the United States.
Thank you for affirming the basic American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, by signing into law the recent protections for domestic workers enshrined in the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Thank you for making California the third state to add these rights to laws. I urge you to pursue more comprehensive protections for domestic workers in California in the future, including paid leave and regulated break and meal times.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Carlos QC