***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
California Domestic Workers Coalition (CDWC)
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2018
Fair Work, Clean Homes! California domestic workers launch coordinated “Day of Action” for greater compliance with the rights of the workers who clean your homes.
(San Francisco, Los Angeles, CA) Just days following the announcement of Trump’s Department of Justice lawsuit against the State of California for its Sanctuary Laws, and after several weeks of increased ICE activity across the state, dozens of California’s domestic workers and their supporters, including Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco, and LA-based Actress Julia Wackenheim, gathered in front of the state buildings in both San Francisco and Los Angeles to celebrate the launch of a new statewide campaign to ensure that the rights of immigrant women workers be respected.
Veronica Nieto, a lead organizer for the SF-based organization Mujeres Unidas y Activas and a domestic worker herself, opened the program in San Francisco stating, “Every day, we as immigrant women workers leave our homes with fear. Some of us, arrive at work afraid, not feeling safe, knowing that we could face retaliation from our employers just for the mere act of exercising our rights as workers. We see the necessity to continue our struggle to achieve the respect and dignity we deserve, to receive greater protections for our families, and to see our rights become a reality in our lives.”
A central focus of the campaign launch was the introduction of Assembly Bill 2314 (Ting) that would establish a program within the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement to promote the implementation of labor standards for the domestic work industry through education and training for both domestic workers as well as employers.
“These are challenging times nationally, especially for workers and immigrants. We, in California, have to continue to lead. AB 2314 sets up protections to ensure domestic workers understand their rights. The bill recognizes that jobs performed by domestic workers are just as valuable as any other work, and that these hardworking individuals deserve the same employer protections as everyone else,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).
This campaign seeks to impact thousands of California families and builds on over a decade of worker-led advocacy. In California, there are over 300,000 domestic workers who work as house-cleaners, nannies, and caregivers in private homes. Nearly two million households in California rely on domestic workers to care for their homes and loved ones. In light of a history of exclusion from basic labor protections, domestic workers, who are primarily immigrant women, have advocated for over ten years to uplift the dignity of domestic work in California state law and to secure fundamental labor protections for this under-recognized workforce. Most recently, domestic workers were extended the permanent right to overtime pay through SB1015 (Leyva) in 2016.
Despite the extension of new protections and the increases in minimum wage across the state, domestic workers continue to experience substandard working conditions and domestic employers often are not aware of the labor laws that govern in their own homes. In a 2012 national study of the domestic work sector, 1 in 4 domestic workers reported being paid less than the minimum wage. More recently, last year in a series of focus groups held by the California Domestic Workers Coalition across the state, domestic workers reported that they were largely unaware of their rights as workers, and many workers mistakenly believed that their immigration status excluded them from basic labor protections.
In Los Angeles, Pilipino Worker Center caregiver leader Lee Plaza, recalled an ongoing case against Health Alliance Nurses Corp, a homecare agency that is the subject of a current lawsuit for allegedly committing wage theft from its more than 200, primarily Filipino, workers. The LA City Attorney estimates that Health Alliance is only paying their workers $5.50 per hour on average, with no overtime, which is nearly half the required minimum wage in LA County of $10.50 per hour. The case could result in upwards of $9 million in restitution to its workers. “Together, we must launch campaigns to stop these kinds of violations!” Plaza vigorously stated.
“Many barriers exist to compliance with domestic worker rights,” stated California Domestic Workers Coalition Director Kimberly Alvarenga. “Those barriers include a lack of clear and basic information on their rights especially given the complexity of the law, language barriers, immigration status, and fear of job loss. But through the Our Work, Our Dignity campaign, we will work to ensure that the immigrant women who do the work in our homes that makes all other work possible are valued and that their rights are respected.”
For more information about the campaign, please visit www.cadomesticworkers.org.
The CDWC is a statewide coalition consisting 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 Educacion Popular del Sur California (IDEPSCA), Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Pilipino Workers Center, and The Women’s Collective of Dolores Street Community Services.