Legislation that would give California’s domestic workers such as housekeepers and nannies overtime pay, rest periods and other state labor protections was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday for either a signature or a veto.
The legislation, Assembly Bill 889, went to Brown on a 42-27 vote along party lines. It’s sponsored by the California Domestic Workers Coalition and dozens of labor unions and civil rights groups and is being carried by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.
Ammiano and other advocates said the legislation would protect domestic workers against exploitation and insisted that when the state Department of Industrial Relations adopts regulations to implement it, it would not be applied to teen-age babysitters and other casual workers.
Republicans, however, said that it would raise costs for parents and the elderly who depend on household help.
Supporters of a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights
Throughout the campaign, there was controversy amongst advocates for disability rights regarding the effects of the bill. Objection #1 for private pay employers of home care attendants was the fear that some employers would not be able to afford to pay the increased benefits required by the bill. There was also some concern that unintended consequences would occur to further harm private pay employers of lesser means.
Proponents of AB 889 point out that having hundreds of thousands of workers without a basic labor agreement is a major cause for the abuses, i.e. labor and pay violations, outright abuses and threats to personal dignity, suffered by home care workers.
During the last week of the session, a compromise was reached which struck most of the firm statutory language from the bill and replaced that with a framework agreement to require the Department of Industrial Relations to create a fair basic labor regulatory structure by January 1, 2014.
The California Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights was endorsed by the New York Times on August 10, 2012.