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Contacts: Alexandra Early, email@example.com California Domestic Workers Coalition (CDWC) 617-816-4260
FRIDAY May 15th, 2020
Domestic Workers Celebrate The Passage of the Health and Safety for All Workers Act through the Senate Labor Committee
On Thursday, May 14th, more than a hundred domestic workers and employers statewide met for a virtual rally and waited for hours to show their support for The Health and Safety for all Workers Act, SB 1257, which would end the exclusion of domestic workers from protections granted by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA).The bill is sponsored by the California Domestic Workers Coalition and authored by Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Senate District 24). The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee voted in favor of the bill — 4 yes to 1 abstention.
Allen Galeon, a leader at the Pilipino Worker Center in Los Angeles addressed the Senators of the Labor Committee during the hearing, “caregivers like me face the same risks as workers in nursing homes or hospitals. We are on the frontlines, in close contact with people who are most vulnerable. But those workers have the right to protective equipment, training and information. We don’t have the right to any of that.
Maegan Ortiz, the Executive Director of the Institute for Popular Education of Southern California, IDEPSCA also spoke as one of the expert witnesses in favor of the bill. “As we approach wildfire season, the dangers domestic workers and day laborers face without CAL/OSHA protections are even greater. One of our members, Miguel Angel Flores, was hospitalized with a heart condition due to smoke exposure from the work he did cleaning homes during the Woolsey Fire. SB 1257 is about basic protections for an industry that now more than ever desperately needs standards and guidance.”
Beginning with a mid-day Virtual Rally to kick off the hearing, 125 members of the CA Domestic Workers Coalition participated in a marathon zoom call for almost eight hours, awaiting the opportunity to express their support for SB 1257 and listen to the decision of the labor committee, which didn’t come until nearly 8 PM at night. As this was one of the first legislative hearings held with strict social distancing rules, domestic worker leaders had to overcome all kinds of technical difficulties to ensure participation, from accesing zoom with limited access to reliable internet, to interpreting the proceedings in Spanish, to muting and unmuting participants so they could give their public comments.
“A twelve hour day is not a twelve hour day when you’re fighting for what’s right,” said Senator Maria Elena Durazo, the bill’s author, after the hearing. “I am ecstatic that my colleagues joined me in fighting for those who have been marginalized in the workplace with the passage of this bill. We are righting the injustices that domestic workers have endured for decades and bringing dignity and respect to the essential workers that represent the soul of California.”
Sylvia Lopez, long time organizer at Mujeres Unidas y Activas and a former housecleaner shared how her reaction to the outcome of the hearing. “I was crying with joy when the committee gave its decision and I saw that every day we have more of a voice and that we are really being heard. We have been in this fight for ten years, since we began the campaign for the CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. After so many years of our work as domestic workers being excluded, finally society at large and our elected officials are beginning to understand that we deserve the same protections and rights as other workers. This fight has been difficult and long, but with each step forward I know it was worth it.”
The bill will be heard next by the Senate Appropriations Committee this summer.
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.