California Domestic Workers Coalition

The Center Square |

Hundreds of domestic workers and allies rallied on the steps of the California Capitol building to support the expansion of work protections to include domestic laborers. SB 686, authored by Senator Durazo (D-Echo Park), would bring the estimated 300,000 domestic workers serving 2 million households under the jurisdiction of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom, who employs domestic workers, had previously vetoed a similar bill in 2020 over concerns that the bill would impose too strict a burden on employers of domestic laborers, and said, “SB 1257 would extend many employers’ obligations to private homeowners and renters, including the duty to create an injury prevention plan and requirement to conduct outdoor heat trainings. Many individuals to whom this law would apply lack the expertise to comply with these regulations.”

Newsom later signed SB 321 into law, creating a Household Domestic Services Employment Safety Committee that drafted voluntary guidelines earlier this year to help keep domestic workers safe and better access breaks. SB 686 would codify these voluntary guidelines into law and create one-time grants for domestic employers to help bring them up to code.

According to an analysis from Bloomberg Law, making households employing domestic workers to be compliant with Cal/OSHA would require that all such households would need to comply with existing Cal/OSHA health and safety standards, which are primarily written for commercial businesses, suggesting there is little practical difference between SB 686 and the vetoed SB 1257. Notably, the Bloomberg Law analysis found that the bill would allow Cal/OSHA to inspect residences and cite households found to be in noncompliance with its regulations. 

Organized labor groups including the United Domestic Workers of America/AFSCME Local 3930 and SEIU California supported the event, which staff from Durazo’s office say attracted 400 individuals.