DOMESTIC WORKERS BILL OF RIGHTS VETOED

In what may be a victim of election season politics, a landmark bill dubbed “The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights,” Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s AB 889 at the last minute on Sunday 9/30/12, stalling efforts to provide common workplace protections to workers – mostly women – who have historically labored without guarantees of overtime or meal breaks.

It needs to be pointed out that sincere efforts were made to ensure that the rights of disabled people employing their own assistants would not be harmed in the process of granting rights to domestic workers in other situations.  “We worked very hard to make sure that the employers, as well as the workers and the disability rights community who ended up removing opposition, were heard in producing this bill,” Ammiano said.

“It’s long overdue for these workers to get these rights,” Ammiano said. “Almost everyone else has had them for decades. There will be new efforts to bring them protections, but we must always remember that justice delayed is justice denied.”

The bill, AB 889, was the product of months of work and negotiation, culminating with a late agreement that would have sent the matter to the Department of Industrial Relations for formulation of regulations.

California would have been the second state to enact labor protections for domestic workers. New York enacted a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010.  The California bill was supported by more than 100 labor, women’s, faith and community groups including National Domestic Worker Alliance, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, CHIRLA, NAACP, AFL-CIO, and Pilipino Workers Center, and has received prominent endorsements from The New York Times and “Parks and Rec” celebrity Amy Poehler.

Click HERE for a link to the entire bill.  The Governor’s veto message can be viewed HERE.

AB 889 GOES TO BROWN FOR SIGNATURE

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.

Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/08/california-assembly-oks-overtime-pay-rest-breaks-for-domestic-workers.html#disqus_thread#storylink=cpy

IHSS CUTS POSTPONED

Judge grants reprieve to 372,000 on cuts to in-home care

A federal judge has apparently granted at least a temporary reprieve to 372,000 elderly and disabled Californians who faced a 20 percent cut in their in-home care on Jan. 1.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland issued a temporary restraining order Thursday that prohibits the state from taking any immediate steps to carry out the reductions — in particular, from mailing out notices to all recipients, starting next week.  Wilken said a lawsuit by disability-rights groups and other advocates raised “serious questions” about whether the cuts would violate federal health and disability laws by forcing recipients into nursing homes.

That means it’s highly unlikely the reductions can take effect Jan. 1, said Stacey Leyton, one of the lawyers who filed the suit. She said the state’s attorneys had told Wilken they needed to send out the notices next week to start the clock running for cutbacks on New Year’s Day.

The judge has tentatively scheduled a hearing Dec. 15 on a request for a preliminary injunction that would block the cuts indefinitely. Even if she decides the state acted legally and denies the injunction, Leyton and other advocates said the cutbacks probably would be delayed by at least a few weeks. And Wilken’s ruling Thursday contained some strong language suggesting that she might well issue an injunction: She said the proposed reductions would put recipients “at imminent and serious risk of harm to their health and safety” and also risk “unnecessary and unwanted out-of-home placement, including institutionalization.” The state’s only concern is saving money, she said, while in-home care patients face “life-or-death consequences.”

The program, called In-Home Supportive Services, provides care to about 440,000 low-income Californians, including the blind and disabled and those over 65 who need help with daily tasks to live at home. The federal government pays about 60 percent of the cost.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in June that required the 20 percent cutback in services to 372,000 recipients in January if the state’s revenues fell short of projections, which they did. The law allows recipients to apply for an exemption if they can show they would be at serious risk of being forced into an institution. But lawyers for the recipients say the exemption uses the same flawed standards that Wilken rejected in 2009 when she blocked the state from eliminating in-home care to 36,000 people and cutting it back for another 97,000.  ….

Source:  San Francisco Chronicle Politics blog, December 1 2011

For detailed and up-to-date information on In-Home Supportive Services, please visit http://www.ihsscoalition.org