On Tuesday, August 31st, housekeepers, nannies and caregivers celebrated the historic Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (A.1470B/S.2311E) bill signing in New York. This landmark legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, guarantees privately-employed nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York benefits such as paid leave, overtime and protection from discrimination. Bay Area domestic workers support the New York billand advocate for similar legislation in California.
Juana Flores, a former domestic worker who is now Director of a Bay Area immigrant women’s center Mujeres Unidas y Activas which runs the Caring Hands Workers Association said that the legislation sets a new standard for protecting vulnerable workers. “This is a historic moment. The time has come for domestic work to be valued and respected,” she said. A resolution recognizing the contributions of domestic workers (ACR 163) just passed the California legislature last week.
Providing testimony on behalf of Filipina caregivers at the celebration, Patricia Aceberos said, “I care about my patient, but caring for my patient shouldn’t mean I can’t care about my own family. I’m fighting for the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights because our work is hard work that feeds people, keeps their homes clean and keeps them alive. Many of us caregivers are people that had to leave our homeland to support our families. We are people that make many sacrifices to serve the elderly and mentally disabled. We deserve the same rights as any other worker.”
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, co-author of the resolution in California expressed support for the Bill in New York and hopes California will be next. “Equality is at the heart of our American values but we are long overdue in treating domestic workers as equals. They are the mothers and daughters that provide vital assistance to our families, to our seniors and who take care of our children yet they lack the basic protections under the law that many of us take for granted. This resolution is the first step in California towards improving the rights of the people who provide so much to our society and yet get so little reward.”