Thursday June 25th, 2020
On Thursday, June 25, the California State Senate voted in favor of SB 1257, the Health and Safety for All Workers Act, with 27 yes votes and 11 no votes. The bill, which is co-sponsored by the California Domestic Workers Coalition, Worksafe, Equal Rights Advocates, California Employment Lawyers Association, and AFSCME-UDW and authored by Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Senate District 24), seeks to end the historic exclusion of “household domestic service” employees from Cal/OSHA protections. The bill requires that domestic worker employers provide their employees with a safe working environment, as is required in all other industries.
About 85 domestic worker and employer leaders gathered on the video application Zoom to watch the Senate Floor vote together.
Vicenta Martinez, a housecleaner and worker leader at IDEPSCA in Los Angeles shared her reaction to winning the vote. “I am so excited right now I feel like my heart is going to jump out of my body,” said Martinez. “This victory means so much because as domestic workers we often feel that our hard work is not really seen or appreciated by our employers or by society. I worked cleaning homes through the fires here in LA, and my employers never even gave me a mask even though they knew that my health was at risk cleaning in such smokey conditions, while also using strong chemical cleaning products. So in the past few weeks when we were calling our Senators to ask for their support, I had all of my friends and family make calls too. It motivates me to know that we are one step closer to having the legal right to safe working conditions.”
Kimberly Alvarenga, Director of the CA Domestic Workers Coalition, said, “Despite the many challenges domestic workers have confronted during the COVID-19 pandemic, our Coalition has continued to adapt, grow and advance the dignity of immigrant women workers. I think we have gotten this far because worker leaders, employers, and allies have organized and mobilized to make hundreds of phone calls to Senators and have shared their stories in lobby visits and on social media about why we so urgently need health and safety protections for domestic workers, especially in the face of COVID-19 and another fast approaching wildfire season.”
Lolita Lledo, Associate Director of the Pilipino Workers Center in Los Angeles, agreed, saying, “many of our homecare worker members have gotten sick with Coronavirus because they were exposed at work and didn’t have proper health and safety training and equipment. Some of our members have been hospitalized and have had to fight for their lives. Others have died. This victory today is for those homecare workers. Now we have to take SB 1257 through the legislative process in the State Assembly and get it signed by the Governor, but I have faith that by next year domestic workers in California will be able to count on having health and safety protections at work.”
For more information about the campaign, please visit www.cadomesticworkers.org.
The CDWC is a statewide coalition of organizations working to advance the dignity and respect for Domestic Workers and their families. The organizations that are a part of our steering committee include: ALMAS of the Graton Day Labor Center, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network, Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur California (IDEPSCA), Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Pilipino Workers Center, and The Women’s Collective of Dolores Street Community Services.