DOMESTIC WORKERS SUPPORT NEW ASSEMBLY BILL AND CALL FOR MORE PROTECTIONS IN SENATE LEGISLATION, DOMESTIC WORKERS BILL OF RIGHTS
Nannies, Housekeepers and Caregivers Demanded that Women’s Work be Protected
New York, NY June 23, 2009— Today New York’s nannies, housekeepers and caretakers gathered in Washington Square Park, to educate other domestic workers on a new Assembly bill that was voted on yesterday, to include domestic workers in existing labor laws. A significant reversal of a long history of exclusion and discrimination, domestic workers supported the Assembly’s efforts while urging New York State Senators to go further, including basic labor standards like notice of termination, paid sick days and paid holidays.
Yesterday’s Assembly Bill includes overtime after 40 hours per week, one day of rest per week, inclusion in state human rights and collective bargaining laws, and inclusion of part-time domestic workers in disability laws. It also mandates the Commissioner of Labor conduct a study on the feasibility of domestic workers achieving standards and benefits like those in the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in the absence of law. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, on the other hand, guarantees health care, notice of termination, severance pay, sick days, and other basic labor protections to over 200,000 domestic workers throughout New York. The New York State Senate Codes Committee has approved the full Bill of Rights and recently Governor David Patterson publicly stated that he will sign the bill once it is passed in both houses.
At today’s news conference in Washington Square Park, a traditional meeting place for nannies and caregivers, domestic workers joined employers, labor leaders and other supporters and discussed the next steps in the five-year campaign to establish basic labor standards. Allies from Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice, Domestic Workers United, and National Jobs with Justice educated others about the additional rights protected by the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. Joycelyn, former nanny and organizer with Domestic Workers United stated that the bill is “about respect, it’s about justice, it’s about dignity, and it will bring stability to this work that makes all other work possible.” Individual domestic workers also offered personal testimony in protest of their exploitation, stressing the moral, democratic, and personal responsibility to support the legislation of actual labor standards and benefits in addition to the eliminating exclusions.
In an open letter to the New York Senate sent today, domestic workers and endorsers such as feminist icon and writer, Gloria Steinem and President of the AFL-CIO, John J. Sweeney urged the Senate to take a historic step forward toward creating labor standards and recognition of domestic work as part of the workforce. A workforce that is disproportionately made up of women of color, the bill in its entirety has the potential to undo the legacy of racism and sexism that has shaped poor conditions in the profession of domestic work. “Isolated in their employers’ private homes, domestic workers risk their livelihoods to ask for benefits other New Yorkers take for granted,” and if the bill is not passed, “employers will continue to deny the humanity of domestic workers.” The letter calls upon the Senate to bring the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights to the floor for a vote, so that it can become a law this year.