L.A. votes in support of domestic workers' rights

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of a resolution from Councilman José Huizar Wednesday to support state legislation which would extend basic workers' rights, such as lunch breaks, vacations and overtime pay to domestic workers in the state of California.AB 889, the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, proposes basic working rights for domestic workers to standardize a highly unregulated industry, create equal standards with other industries and strengthen quality of care for elders, the disabled and their families. "For far too long domestic workers have been treated like a second-class work force," said Councilmember Huizar. "Fit to clean our homes, care for our children and tend to our ill, yet not deserving of the same basic workers' rights that so many of us take for granted. AB 889 will address this inequity and restore dignity to 200,000 domestic workers throughout the state, including thousands right here in the City of Los Angeles." The legislation authored by Assembly members Tom Ammiano and V. Manuel Pérez would specially regulate the wages, hours and working conditions of domestic work employees who clean homes, take care of the elderly and infirmed, as well as serve as nannies to thousands of children. The bill has earned a wide band of support among Latino, Asian and immigration rights advocates, including the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). "Councilmember Huizar's resolution highlights the importance of approving AB 889 for the benefit of our local and state economy and the standardization of this very humane yet unregulated industry," said Angelica Salas, Executive Director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). "Los Angeles, the epicenter of immigrants in the nation, cannot do anything less than lead the effort for worker parity, respect to those men and women who serve and care for our children, elderly, and infirmed at home, and a buttressed economy with everyone earning their fair share." The California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would enable domestic workers to earn 1/2 hour meal breaks after five hours of work and 10 minute breaks after four hours of work. It would also allow workers to earn overtime and accrue one hour of vacation benefits for every 30 hours worked. Paid vacation days are critical to ensuring that domestic workers who live-in with their employer or work extremely long hours are able to spend time with their own families. It would also give workers who work for more than five hours the right to use kitchen facilities at no charge to cook their own food. Unlike most workers, domestic workers are often confined to their workplace and are unable to leave their workplace to go get food, supporters of the legislation said. "For more than two decades, I served several families who said they cared for me but never gave me a paid day off or allowed me to cook my own food in their kitchen," said Julia Quintero, a domestic worker for 22 years. "This bill gives employers a chance to do the right thing and will not cost them much more than what they are paying now. Workers will feel better compensated and employers will continue to receive quality care. We all win." The California Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee voted 5-2 in favor of AB 889 last week. The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for approval. Huizar's resolution will now go to the Mayor's office for review before being sent to the State legislative bodies as an official position of the City of Los Angeles.

********** Published: July 14, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 13