California Domestic Workers Coalition

OC Register |

When Maria Torres arrived at a new job cleaning a house in Irvine, her client had a request: She needed to remove her shoes.

Torres was apprehensive about the ask, worried that without the traction of her shoes, she could have an accident. But she complied and her fear was realized. While cleaning the bathroom, she fell, hurting her head and knees. She missed several days of work as a result, losing about $900 overall, Torres said.

That was about seven years ago, and now Torres is one of multiple people who have lobbied the state legislature in recent days in support of a bill from Sen. María Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, to include certain domestic workers in the state workplace protection laws.

“We really believe that everyone deserves a safe workplace. The problem is, for far too long, the workers we entrust to care for our loved ones and our homes have been marginalized and dehumanized by intentional exclusion from our work protection laws,” said Silvia Hernandez, who has worked as a housekeeper in Orange County for 13 years.

“Our workplaces are in private homes, but just like any other worker who shows up to work, we deserve protections while we are on the job,” Hernandez, 63, said in an interview with the help of a translator.

About 150 people rallied outside the Capitol on a chilly Wednesday, March 1, holding signs in English and Spanish, saying, “Everyone deserves a safe workplace.” Dozens more participated in online lobbying efforts. (Hernandez and Torres had planned to travel to Sacramento, but the recent storms prevented the trip.)

Durazo’s bill would fold certain domestic workers — like nannies, housekeepers and home care employees — into Cal/OSHA protections.