California Domestic Workers Coalition

Santa Barbara Independent |

Today is Tuesday, August 29, as I write this, and I am outside the Capitol Building in Sacramento with Jacob Lesner-Buxton. Jacob has just received news that his mother is seriously ill in Oakland, so he is leaving to be with her. We had planned to fly back and write this together in preparation for Labor Day.

Today makes me think of Selma, and other Civil Rights marches of the 1960s. We are singing “I Shall Not Be Moved,” except in Spanish, “No Nos Moveremos.” We are here to call on Governor Newsom to sign Senate Bill 686, providing health and safety protections for domestic care workers.

Jacob and I are members of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network. We are raising our voices alongside some 40 other advocacy groups today. California would not treat firefighters, police, not even teachers, and certainly not a governor like this. It is unconscionable for this disregard to go on. It’s worth noting that Newsom has previously vetoed two similar bills.

I was invited to be Hand in Hand’s spokesperson: “Governor Newsom, you lack the pedigree of poverty that domestic workers have. Someday you may need a domestic worker to care for yourself. That’s why we are here today — to call upon you to hear our loud voices. We want you to sign SB 686 and honor the lives, the families, and the labor of domestic caregivers, who provide one of the most important needs in our society.”

Today’s action was different from many others. Among workers, we saw many immigrant women, especially Latina and Filipina. They provide services historically done by Black women. We acknowledged today that the legacy of slavery in our country cannot be shaken off while any workers are exploited. This march was special, too, because so many elders participated. Some folks had wheelchairs, scooters, or walkers. Some walked with difficulty. I was there for all these people, and for my own mother, who has been the recipient of domestic care.