Domestic workers call for equal labor rights

Posted on June 28, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Sonoma housecleaner Yamileth Velasquez was among the speakers Wednesday at a state capital rally calling for passage of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which would extend basic labor protections such as overtime pay and meal breaks to domestic workers.

“We are excluded from protections as if we were not even seen as human beings,” Velasquez told the crowd.

The Senate Labor Committee passed the bill (AB 241, Ammiano), which now moves on to the full Senate. Supporters said the bill simply extends to domestic workers the rights established for other workers 75 years ago by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“It will help us to have basic rights, like the right to take a break, or to have access to food,” said Valasquez.

Supporters said domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because they work alone in someone else’s home, yet are excluded from laws that ensure workers are paid fairly and treated humanely.

“(AB 241) will be good for me as an employer because workers whose basic needs are met can provide better quality of care” said Meg Yardley, an employer of a domestic worker nanny “It’s time to include domestic workers in our country’s labor laws.”

At the rally domestic workers and children of employers delivered a large invitation to Governor Brown, calling on him to shadow a domestic worker for a day.

“I clean houses because my two kids need me, I’m basically a single mother because my husband was deported,” Velasquez said. “(This law) will help us have the same rights that other workers have.”