Joined by comedian Cristela Alonzo, Ai-jen Poo and other labor leaders and organizers, state electeds rallied with hundreds of domestic workers at the State Capitol to support SB 686, the Health and Safety for All Workers Act
Today, hundreds of nannies, house cleaners, day laborers, and homecare workers throughout the state were joined by national labor leaders and state legislative leaders to call on Governor Newsom to take the moral stand and to finally grant occupational safety and health protections to this historically excluded workforce.
The exclusion from basic labor protections, which has left Black and immigrant women unprotected from hazards at the workplace and subject to unequal labor laws, is a lasting vestige of slavery in California’s Labor Code, and domestic workers and their supporters from across California rallied to send the message loud and clear that they have waited long enough.
SB 686 would end the discriminatory exclusion of domestic workers from the state’s workplace safety laws and would ensure that domestic workers have the same legal right as other workers to health and safety training and protective equipment, and to be protected from retaliation when they advocate for their own safety at work.
SB 686 faces a vote from the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday. “This is the third time this bill to protect the health and safety of one of our country’s most marginalized workforces has moved through the state legislature. California leaders have a choice now to stand on the right side of history or to continue to uphold the institutionalized racism of the past,” said CDWC Director Kimberly Alvarenga.
Workers rallied at the Capitol, energized after hearing remarks from SEIU California Executive Director Tia Orr and AFSCME UDW Local 3930 Executive Director Doug Moore, Ai-jen Poo, President of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Cristela Alonzo. They were joined by bill author Senator Maria Elena Durazo and vice-chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, as well as Rev. Dr. David Moore with Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network and Martha Garrido with La Colectiva de Mujeres, Dolores Street Community Services.
“Too often, women of color have been put in harm’s way and treated as disposable. The harm to our bodies – the pain from injuries, the trauma of assault – is treated as trivial,” said Tia Orr, SEIU California Executive Director. “Our struggle has been invisible to those who blindly inhabit a bubble of privilege. We are here today to tell our leaders that all workers, regardless of race, national origin, language, or gender – deserve protection and safe workplaces.”
Ai-jen Poo, President of the National Domestic Workers Alliance stated: “California has a long history of powerful workers movements changing the state for the better. As union members and workers across the state are working together for justice, domestic workers, who intimately understand the need for strong workplace protections, are pushing for the passage of SB 686, the Health and Safety for All Workers Act. SB 686 represents a critical step towards ensuring the well-being of California’s domestic workforce, which has long been our communities’ essential yet often overlooked backbone.”
Poo added, “This legislation highlights the importance of workplace safety. Together, we are sending a powerful message to Sacramento that the time for fair labor laws and protections is now. Remember that the work of a caregiver, a house cleaner, or a nanny is not just a service; it’s an essential part of our economic infrastructure, our communities’ resilience and our families’ health and well-being. It is essential that we protect the rights, health and well-being of domestic workers and all workers in California, and that we do so now. ”
After the rally, the coalition marched to the Capitol Annex Building to deliver letters from domestic worker family members urging the Governor to sign the bill, while workers and employers “swept the capitol” to demonstrate the need to clean up California’s labor laws. Hundreds of Californians have also signed digital letters of support urging the state to take action on domestic worker safety.
Building on the Work
SB 686 builds on the work of the SB 321 Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee, which convened throughout 2022 and released California’s first-ever guidelines for occupational safety and health in home workplaces earlier this year. Policy recommendations made by the committee included ending the household domestic services exclusion from the California labor code giving Cal/OSHA the authority needed to implement health and safety protections for the in-home workforce.
The bill gives Cal/OSHA and employers a head start, giving Cal/OSHA the time and the authority to develop official health and safety guidance for employers and requiring household service employers to adhere to applicable health and safety measures after January 2025. SB 686 is focused on preventing workplace injuries through training programs like the Domestic Worker and Employer Education and Outreach Program (DWEOP). In July, the Governor allocated $35 million in funding for DWEOP, which enables community based organizations to expand education, outreach, and training for domestic workers and employers to ensure that domestic worker rights and their occupational safety and health are upheld throughout California. The Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment voted unanimously to advance SB 686 in June.
The bill’s co-sponsors include the California Employment Lawyers Association, California Immigrant Policy Center, Equal Rights Advocates and WORKSAFE.
Find more images and video footage from the rally here: https://bit.ly/SB686MEDIAPKT
California Domestic Workers Coalition (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: the Graton Day Labor Center, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), 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. For more information, please visit www.cadomesticworkers.org.
National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the leading voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color. NDWA is powered by over 70 affiliate organizations and local chapters and by a growing membership base of nannies, house cleaners and care workers in over 20 states. NDWA has created Alia, an online platform to help domestic workers access benefits, not otherwise granted to them, in addition to introducing a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights with now-Vice President Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal in 2019. Learn more at www.domesticworkers.org.