The groundbreaking legislation would grant basic workplace protections to America’s domestic workers for the first time ever
JULY 15, 2019 (WASHINGTON D.C.) – Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) plan to introduce early this week the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, a landmark piece of legislation to ensure that every nanny, housecleaner and home care worker in the United States can earn a decent living, have a voice at work, support their health and their families, and work in safety and with dignity.
This week’s introduction of the Bill of Rights will be kicked off with a press conference today at 4 pm at the House Triangle in Washington DC featuring 100 domestic workers, Members of Congress, including Representative Jayapal, Senator Harris (to be confirmed), as well as Cecile Richards and other supporting allies. Tomorrow, Tuesday July 16, domestic workers will meet with their members of Congress on the Hill to encourage lawmakers to support domestic worker protections.
“Domestic workers are one of the fastest growing workforces in our country,” said Senator Kamala Harris said.“They provide essential care to aging parents, children, homes, and more. However, our nation’s domestic workers have not been afforded the same rights and benefits as nearly every other worker, and it’s time we change that. I am proud to partner with Congresswoman Jayapal to introduce the first ever National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, an innovative set of rights and protections to ensure domestic workers have the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Every day, over 2 million nannies, home care workers, and housecleaners clean and care for America’s homes and families – and yet, neither their jobs nor their livelihoods are protected under many national or state employment laws. Since the passage of laws governing workplaces, such as the Fair Standards Labor Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the OSH Act, domestic workers have been excluded by design or by default from basic workers’ protections, including occupational and safety regulations, fair labor standards, the right to organize and anti-discrimination protections in large part because of the employee thresholds for coverage that were created under these laws.
Domestic workers, who are overwhelmingly women of color and many immigrant, are paid low wages, often treated poorly and lack legal protections from sexual harassment. Even when domestic workers do have legal rights and protections, they often face systemic barriers that prevent them from exercising their rights.
The National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would not only provide rights and protections for domestic workers, but would stand as a model for other workforces. The Bill of Rights has already garnered House and Senate co-sponsors:
- Include domestic workers in common workplace rights and protections, like paid sick days, meal and rest breaks, and extend anti-workplace discrimination protections.
- Address the unique challenges of domestic worker by establishing a wage and standards board, standardizing written work agreements, and investing in a study on how to guarantee health care and retirement benefits for domestic workers.
- Ensuring that rights do not just exist on paper but can be implemented by preventing retaliation, providing grants to trusted community groups to inform workers of their rights and help with enforcement and providing funding for increased costs to Medicaid-funded consumers.
“For the first time in history, we have a chance to raise the bar for every domestic worker in our country, and set the stage for all working people,” said Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “As people live longer, we have the opportunity to embrace an intergenerational future in America, where all of us are cared for at each stage of our lives. All of us deserve to work and live with safety and dignity, and this legislation ensures that no one is left behind.”
“I am so proud to be the House sponsor of this historic National Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. Domestic workers have been excluded from basic protections since the New Deal – and domestic workers are the future of work,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “The courageous working-class women, women of color and immigrant women who are demanding their rights today are unwilling to be excluded any longer. When domestic workers win, everyone wins: this bill will protect, stabilize and expand this important workforce in one of the fastest growing industries in the country.”
Harris and Jayapal, lead sponsors of the bill, worked closely with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for domestic workers. Groups of nannies, housecleaners and home care workers came together from 2018 to 2019 to create their own standards of fairness, now included in the federal bill. Over the last decade, the National Domestic Workers Alliance has helped legislate domestic workers’ rights across nine states, including New Mexico, Oregon, Illinois, New York, California, Nevada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Hawaii, as well as a municipal ordinance in Seattle.
ABOUT NATIONAL DOMESTIC WORKERS ALLIANCE
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 60 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, Alia, in addition to proposing a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights with Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.
Senator Kamala Harris:
Meaghan Lynch, Press Secretary
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal:
Brian Doyle, Press Secretary
National Domestic Workers Alliance:
Prerana Swami, Elle Communications