California Domestic Workers Coalition

By Jacqueline García

Activists and domestic workers are asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a bill that would extend safe work requirements to 13 million California households employing domestic help such as housekeepers and gardeners.

Known as the Health and Safety for All Workers Act, the bill was approved by the Legislature on Aug. 27. Newsom has until Sept. 30 to act on the measure.

SB 1257 calls for the removal of a historic exclusion that denies the right to domestic workers — mainly women — to know when there are risks in the workplace, which are primarily private residences. 

Workers like Vicenta Martinez know these risks very closely. She has worked for 22 years cleaning homes. She said the Malibu fires affected her in 2018 when, despite poor air-conditions, ash and toxic emissions, she had to continue cleaning the two houses where she worked.