June 19, 2009
Dear Senator Pedro Espada, Senator John Sampson, Senator Dean Skelos and Senator Malcolm Smith:
We urge you to pass the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, S2311, in its entirety, in the New York State Senate this legislative session.
Every day, over 200,000 workers who are mostly women of color, go to work as nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers. They care for the most important elements of their employers’ lives: their families and homes, so that their employers can go to work with peace of mind. Despite the critical care they provide, they are vulnerable to some of the worst abuses imaginable, and lack the power to negotiate for basic rights and benefits. Isolated in their employers’ private homes, most domestic workers risk their livelihoods to ask for benefits other New Yorkers take for granted.
Until the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights is passed, domestic workers will suffer in the shadows of homes throughout New York State, just as they have for generations. Now is the moment to recognize the work, protect the workforce, and change the course of history.
If you end this legislative session without passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, some employers of domestic workers will go on vacation like they always have, without paying any vacation time or severance pay to their domestic workers. Harriett, a nanny, was asked to take the summer off unpaid, when her employers went away for the summer. He then told her during this unpaid vacation that she would no longer be needed. Employers will continue to treat workers as disposable and neglect domestic workers’ own families whose livelihoods depend on regular paychecks.
If you end this legislative session without passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, some employers of domestic workers will continue to verbally, emotionally, and physically abuse their workers, sometimes locking them in their homes and forcing them to work for horrifying wages and periods of time. Marichu was a housekeeper and nanny from the Philippines who worked 18 hours a day and 7 days a week, for only $100 a month - a mere 6 cents an hour. Employers can continue to deny their domestic workers a day of rest; overtime pay after 40 hours; and sick pay when they fall ill.
If you end this legislative session without passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights,, some employers of domestic workers will deny their workers the right to take care of their health and well-being. Caroline, another housecleaner, was made to return to her job only 4 days after breast surgery; forced to work on holidays because she was not American, and was terminated without notice as her boss pushed her off the porch and kicked her, calling her racist slurs. If you leave Albany before this bill is passed, some employers will continue to deny the humanity of domestic workers.
Just last week, the Assembly Codes Committee passed a bill supporting the end to exclusions of domestic workers in the existing law. We are counting on the Senate to pass an even stronger bill and bring the type of reform and people-focused legislation we have been counting on all along. We believe that the Senate is committed to passing this historic piece of legislation - the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights has already passed through the Senate Codes Committee. In addition, our 27 co-sponsors in the Senate have officially committed their support and leadership on the issue. We know the Senate understands this importance of this legislation and we’re counting on you. Do not end this legislative session without passing this urgent piece of legislation.
Initiating Organizational Signatories: Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice, Andolan Organizing South Asian Workers, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Domestic Workers United, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Unity Housecleaners of Long Island
To endorse as an organization, please email: domesticworkersuntied@gmai
To sign on as individual: http://salsa.democracyinac