A History of Exclusion
In 1938, Congress enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act which granted minimum wage and overtime protections to workers in the U.S. Southern lawmakers refused to pass the Act unless two key groups of workers were excluded: farmworkers and domestic workers. They did not want to open the door to equality for African-Americans who made up the majority of that workforce.
Domestic work is rooted in the legacy of slavery, and today the vast majority of domestic workers are migrant women of color whose work is socially and systemically undervalued. In 1976, California passed a Household Occupations Wage Order to provide minimum wage, overtime and other labor protections to domestic workers but it excluded workers who spend a significant amount of time caring for children, seniors and people with disabilities.
The California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
The California Domestic Workers Coalition formed in 2005 as vehicle for grassroots domestic worker organizations to unite with a broad coalition of supporters to advance statewide policy change to uplift the dignity of domestic work in our state.
After a 7 year fight to pass state legislation in California to extend labor protections to a historically excluded workforce, in 2013, we passed AB241: the CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. This bill extended overtime protections to domestic workers who had previously been excluded; personal attendants who care for children, seniors and people with disabilities.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016
Governor Jerry Brown signs into law SB1015: The 2016 Domestic Workers Bill of Rights! Over 300,000 domestic workers in California now have permanent overtime protections. History has been made, this victory comes as the result of nearly a decade of advocacy in the California legislature and organizing workers from across the state to the Capitol to uphold the dignity of domestic work within state law. Domestic worker leaders have been at the forefront of every step of the way– from leading a march in Sacramento to testifying in front of a policy committee. Thanks to the leadership of domestic workers and to the commitment of allies and supporters from across the state, we have achieved permanent recognition to an industry that was once in the shadows.
We did it, Si se pudo!
Building a National Movement
We are part of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and together we work towards uplifting the dignity of domestic workers across the U.S. by building domestic worker power in our communities and our state Capitols. California joins 5 other states in extending labor protections to domestic workers; other states that have enacted legislation are New York, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon. Together we are building domestic worker power by organizing alongside workers, employers, unions, faith leaders, immigrants rights groups and entire communities to protect the dignity of all our families.