When New York passed the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, domestic workers in other states began the push for equal and fair labor laws. While several states are considering similar bills, California is ready to go before the Senate next week with The California Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. If successful the passage of this bill will provide basic workplace protections for California’s 200,000 domestic workers, many of whom are female immigrants.
These protections are vital to workers who often work in private homes versus in the public view. Lacking legislation to regulate and govern employers of domestic workers, many are forced to work in unsafe conditions. Workplace injuries are common, however compensation is not. Workers who cannot perform job duties risk losing their only source of income, therefore many continue to work in spite of injuries or harsh conditions.
Domestic workers have been vulnerable to exploitation since the 1930’s when they were excluded from basic labor protection laws. The United States is home to 10 million domestic workers. Immigrants often hold these positions and in some cases immigrants are undocumented. The immigration status of domestic workers should not determine if a domestic worker is abused or forced to work conditions which are unsafe.
Across the globe there are over 50 million people employed as domestic workers. To provide all workers with basic rights, the International Labor Organization will vote on global standards on June 17.
In the meantime, Americans must question why all states haven’t passed bills similar to that of New York and California? Depriving workers of basic rights is not only unfair, in some cases it is inhumane. If you can’t find safe work conditions and a fair wage in the United States, where can you find them?